Most happy letters! fram’d by skilfull trade,
With which that happy name was first desynd
The which three times thrise happy hath me made,
With guifts of body, fortune, and of mind.
The first ray being to me gave by kind,
From mothers womb deriv’d by dew descent:
The second is my sovereigne Queene most kind,
That honour and large richesse to me lent:
The third my Love, my lives last ornament,
By whom my spirit out of dust was raysed,
To speake her prayse and glory excellent,
Of all alive most worthy to be praysed.
Ye three Elizabeths! for ever live,
That three such graces did unto me give.
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Agayne I wrote it with a second hand;
But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.
“Vayne man,” sayd she, “that doest in vaine assay
A mortall thing so to immortalize;
For I my selve shall lyke to this decay,
And eke my name bee wyped out lykewize.”
“Not so,” quod I; “let baser things devize
To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the hevens wryte your glorious name.
Where, when as death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
Fayre bosome! fraught with vertues richest tresure,
The neast of love, the lodging of delight,
The bowre of blisse, the paradice of pleasure,
The sacred harbour of that hevenly spright,
How was I ravisht with your lovely sight,
And my frayle thoughts too rashly led astray,
Whiles diving deepe through amorous insight,
On the sweet spoyle of beautie they did pray,
And twixt her paps, like early fruit in May,
Whose harvest seemd to hasten now apace,
They loosely did theyr wanton winges display,
And there to rest themselves did boldly place.
Sweet thoughts! I envy your so happy rest,
Which oft I wisht, yet never was so blest.
Was it a dreame, or did I see it playne?
A goodly table of pure yvory,
All spred with juncats fit to entertayne
The greatest prince with pompous roialty:
Mongst which, there in a silver dish did ly
Two golden apples of unvalewd* price,
Far passing those which Hercules came by,
Or those which Atalanta did entice;
Exceeding sweet, yet voyd of sinfull vice;
That many sought, yet none could ever taste;
Sweet fruit of pleasure, brought from Paradice
By Love himselfe, and in his garden plaste.
Her brest that table was, so richly spredd;
My thoughts the guests, which would thereon have fedd.
[* Unvalewd, invaluable]