Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: II. Life
Beauty
Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)
 

SO every spirit, as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
So it the fairer bodie doth procure
To habit in, and it more fairly dight
With cheerfull grace and amiable sight;        5
For of the soule the bodie forme doth take;
For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make.
 
Therefore whenever that thou dost behold
A comely corpse, with beauty fair endued,
Know this for certaine, that the same doth hold        10
A beauteous soule, with fair conditions thewed,
Fit to receive the seed of virtue strewed;
For all that faire is, is by nature good;
That is a signe to know the gentle blood.
 
Yet oft it falls that many a gentle minde        15
Dwells in deformèd tabernacle drowned,
Either by chance, against the course of kinde,
Or through unaptnesse in the substance found,
Which it assumèd of some stubborne ground,
That will not yield unto her forme’s direction,        20
But is performed with some foul imperfection.
 
And oft it falls (aye me, the more to rue!)
That goodly beautie, albeit heavenly borne,
Is foul abused, and that celestial hue,
Which doth the world with her delight adorne,        25
Made but the bait of sin, and sinners’ scorne,
Whilst every one doth seek and sue to have it,
But every one doth seek but to deprave it.
 
Yet nathèmore is that faire beautie’s blame,
But theirs that do abuse it unto ill:        30
Nothing so goode, but that through guilty shame
May be corrupt, and wrested unto will:
Natheless the soule is faire and beauteous stille,
However fleshe’s fault it filthy make;
For things immortal no corruption take.        35
 
 
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