THINK not, 'cause men flattering say
You're fresh as April, sweet as May,
Bright as is the morning star,
That you are so ; or, though you are,
Be not therefore proud, and deem
All men unworthy your esteem :
For, being so, you lose the pleasure
Of being fair, since that rich treasure
Of rare beauty and sweet feature
Was bestow'd on you by nature
To be enjoy'd ; and 'twere a sin
There to be scarce, where she hath bin
So prodigal of her best graces.
Thus common beauties and mean faces
Shall have more pastime, and enjoy
The sport you lose by being coy.
Did the thing for which I sue
Only concern myself, not you ;
Were men so framed as they alone
Reap'd all the pleasure, women none ;
Then had you reason to be scant :
But 'twere a madness not to grant
That which affords (if you consent)
To you the giver, more content
Than me, the beggar.
Oh, then be
Kind to yourself, if not to me.
Starve not yourself, because you may
Thereby make me pine away ;
Nor let brittle beauty make
You your wiser thoughts forsake ;
For that lovely face will fail.
Beauty's sweet, but beauty's frail,
'Tis sooner past, 'tis sooner done,
Than summer's rain, or winter's sun ;
Most fleeting, when it is most dear,
'Tis gone, while we but say 'tis here.
These curious locks, so aptly twined,
Whose every hair a soul doth bind,
Will change their auburn hue and grow
White and cold as winter's snow.
That eye, which now is Cupid's nest,
Will prove his grave, and all the rest
Will follow ; in the cheek, chin, nose,
Nor lily shall be found, nor rose.
And what will then become of all
Those whom now you servants call ?
Like swallows, when your summer's done,
They'll fly, and seek some warmer sun.
Then wisely choose one to your friend
Whose love may, when your beauties end,
Remain still firm : be provident,
And think, before the summer's spent,
Of following winter ; like the ant,
In plenty hoard for time of scant.
Cull out, amongst the multitude
Of lovers, that seek to intrude
Into your favour, one that may
Love for an age, not for a day ;
One that will quench your youthful fires,
And feed in age your hot desires.
For when the storms of time have moved
Waves on that cheek which was beloved,
When a fair lady's face is pined,
And yellow spread where once red shined ;
When beauty, youth, and all sweets leave her,
Love may return, but lover never :
And old folks say there are no pains
Like itch of love in aged veins.
O love me, then, and now begin it,
Let us not lose this present minute ;
For time and age will work that wrack
Which time or age shall ne'er call back.
The snake each year fresh skin resumes,
And eagles change their aged plumes ;
The faded rose each spring receives
A fresh red tincture on her leaves :
But if your beauties once decay,
You never know a second May.
O then, be wise, and whilst your season
Affords you days for sport, do reason ;
Spend not in vain your life's short hour,
But crop in time your beauty's flower,
Which will away, and doth together
Both bud and fade, both blow and wither.
Top Thomas Carew Poems