Gaze not on Swans, in whose soft breast
A full-hatch'd Beauty seems to nest,
Nor Snow, which falling from the Sky,
Hovers in its Virginity.
Gaze not on Roses, though new-blown,
Graced with a fresh complexion;
Nor Lillies, which no subtle Bee
Hath robb'd by kissing chymistree.
Gaze not on that pure milky way,
Where night vies splendour with the day;
Nor Pearl, whose silver walls confine
The riches of an Indian mine.
For if my Emperess appears,
Swans moulting die, Snow melts to tears;
Roses do blush and hang their heads,
Pale Lillies shrink into their beds.
The milky way rides post to shroud
Its baffl'd glory in a cloud;
And pearls do climb into her ear,
To hang themselves for envy there.
So I have seen Stars big with light,
Prove lanthorns to the Moon-eyed Night;
Which when Sol's rays were once display'd,
Sunk in their sockets, and decay'd.
This poem, attributed to Henry Noel, was set to music by Henry Lawes in his 'Ayres and Dialogues', 1653 and later included in 'Poetical Works of William Stroce' by Bertram Dobell (1907).