Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Menaphon’s Eclogue
By Robert Greene (1558–1592)
 
(From Menaphon: 1589)

TOO weak the wit, too slender is the brain,
That means to mark the power and worth of love;
Not one that lives, except he hap to prove,
Can tell the sweet, or tell the secret pain.
 
Yet I that have been prentice to the grief,        5
Like to the cunning sea-man, from afar,
By guess will take the beauty of that star
Whose influence must yield me chief relief.
 
You censors of the glory of my dear,
With reverence and lowly bent of knee,        10
Attend and mark what her perfections be;
For in my words my fancies shall appear.
 
Her locks are plighted like the fleece of wool
That Jason with his Grecian mates achiev’d;
As pure as gold, yet not from gold deriv’d;        15
As full of sweets as sweet of sweets is full.
 
Her brows are pretty tables of conceit,
There Love his records of delight doth quote;
On them her dallying locks do daily float,
As Love full oft doth feed upon the bait.        20
 
Her eyes, fair eyes, like to the purest lights
That animate the sun or cheer the day;
In whom the shining sunbeams brightly play,
Whiles Fancy doth on them divine delights.
 
Her cheeks like ripen’d lilies steep’d in wine,        25
Or fair pomegranate-kernels wash’d in milk,
Or snow-white threads in nets of crimson silk,
Or gorgeous clouds upon the sun’s decline.
 
Her lips are roses over-wash’d with dew,
Or like the purple of Narcissus’ flower;        30
No frost their fair, no wind doth waste their power,
But by her breath her beauties do renew.
 
Her crystal chin like to the purest mould
Enchas’d with dainty daisies soft and white,
Where Fancy’s fair pavillion once is pight,        35
Whereas embrac’d his beauties he doth hold.
 
Her neck like to an ivory shining tower,
Where through with azure veins sweet nectar runs,
Or like the down of swans where Senesse wons,
Or like delight that doth itself devour.        40
 
Her paps are like fair apples in the prime,
As round as orient pearls, as soft as down;
They never veil their fair through winter’s frown,
But from their sweets Love sucks his summertime.
 
Her body Beauty’s best-esteemed bower,        45
Delicious, comely, dainty, without stain;
The thought whereof (not touch) hath wrought my pain;
Whose fair all fair and beauties doth devour.
 
Her maiden mount, the dwelling-house of Pleasure;
Not like, for why no like surpasseth wonder:        50
O, blest is he may bring such beauties under,
Or search by suit the secrets of that treasure!
 
Devour’d in thought, how wanders my device!
What rests behind I must divine upon:
Who talks the best can say but “Fairer none”;        55
Few words well-couch’d do most content the wise.
 
All you that hear, let not my silly style
Condemn my zeal; for what my tongue should say
Serves to enforce my thoughts to seek the way
Whereby my woes and cares I do beguile.        60
 
Seld speaketh Love, but sighs his secret pains;
Tears are his truchmen, words do make him tremble:
How sweet is Love to them that can dissemble
In thoughts and looks till they have reap’d the gains!
 
All lonely I complain, and what I say        65
I think, yet what I think tongue cannot tell:
Sweet censors, take my silly worst for well;
My faith is firm, though homely be my lay.
 
 
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