Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from The Steel Glass: Epilogus
By George Gascoigne (d. 1577)
 
ALAS, (my lord), my haste was all too hot,
I shut my glass before you gazed your fill,
And at a glimpse my seely self have spied
A stranger troop than any yet were seen:
Behold, my lord, what monsters muster here,        5
With angels face, and harmful hellish hearts,
With smiling looks and deep deceitful thoughts,
With tender skins, and stony cruel minds,
With stealing steps, yet forward feet to fraud.
Behold, behold, they never stand content,        10
With God, with kind, with any help of Art,
But curl their locks with bodkins and with braids,
But dye their hair with sundry subtle sleights,
But paint and slick till fairest face be foul,
But bumbast, bolster, frizzle and perfume:        15
They marr with musk the balm which nature made,
And dig for death in delicatest dishes.
The younger sort come piping on apace,
In whistles made of fine enticing wood,
Till they have caught the birds for whom they brided,        20
And on their backs they bear both land and fee,
Castles and towers, revenues and receipts,
Lordships and manors, fines, yea farms and all.
What should these be? (speak you my lovely lord)
They be not men: for why they have no beards.        25
They be no boys which wear such sidelong gowns.
They be no Gods, for all their gallant gloss.
They be no devils (I trow) which seem so saintish.
What be they? women? masking in men’s weeds?
With dutchkin doublets, and with jerkins jagged?        30
With Spanish spangs and ruffs set out of France,
With high copt hats and feathers flaunt a flaunt?
They be so sure even woe to Men in deed.
Nay then, my lord, let shut the glass apace,
High time it were for my poor Muse to wink,        35
Since all the hands, all paper, pen and ink,
Which ever yet this wretched world possest,
Cannot describe this sex in colours due.
No, No, my lord, we gazed have enough,
(And I too much; God pardon me therefore),        40
Better look off than look an ace too far:
And better mum than meddle overmuch,
But if my glass do like my lovely lord,
We will espy some sunny summers day,
To look again and see some seemly sights.        45
Meanwhile my muse right humbly doth beseech,
That my good lord accept this vent’rous verse
Until my brains may better stuff devise.
 
 
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