The Description Of A Woman.

A poem by Robert Herrick

Whose head, befringed with bescattered tresses,
Shows like Apollo's when the morn he dresses,[B]
Or like Aurora when with pearl she sets
Her long, dishevell'd, rose-crown'd trammelets:
Her forehead smooth, full, polish'd, bright and high
Bears in itself a graceful majesty,
Under the which two crawling eyebrows twine
Like to the tendrils of a flatt'ring vine,
Under whose shade two starry sparkling eyes
Are beautifi'd with fair fring'd canopies.
Her comely nose, with uniformal grace,
Like purest white, stands in the middle place,
Parting the pair, as we may well suppose.
Each cheek resembling still a damask rose,
Which like a garden manifestly show
How roses, lilies, and carnations grow,
Which sweetly mixed both with white and red,
Like rose leaves, white and red, seem[C] mingled.
Then nature for a sweet allurement sets
Two smelling, swelling, bashful cherrylets,
The which with ruby redness being tipp'd,
Do speak a virgin, merry, cherry-lipp'd.
Over the which a neat, sweet skin is drawn,
Which makes them show like roses under lawn:
These be the ruby portals, and divine,
Which ope themselves to show a holy shrine
Whose breath is rich perfume, that to the sense
Smells like the burn'd Sabean frankincense:
In which the tongue, though but a member small,
Stands guarded with a rosy-hilly wall;
And her white teeth, which in the gums are set
Like pearl and gold, make one rich cabinet.
Next doth her chin with dimpled beauty strive
For his white, plump, and smooth prerogative;
At whose fair top, to please the sight, there grows
The fairest[D] image of a blushing rose,
Mov'd by the chin, whose motion causeth this,
That both her lips do part, do meet, do kiss;
Her ears, which like two labyrinths are plac'd
On either side, with rich rare jewels grac'd,
Moving a question whether that by them
The gem is grac'd, or they grac'd by the gem.
But the foundation of the architect
Is the swan-staining, fair, rare, stately neck
Which with ambitious humbleness stands under,
Bearing aloft this rich, round world of wonder.
Her breast, a place for beauty's throne most fit,
Bears up two globes where love and pleasure sit,
Which, headed with two rich, round rubies, show
Like wanton rosebuds growing out of snow;
And in the milky valley that's between
Sits Cupid, kissing of his mother queen,
Fingering the paps that feel like sieved silk,
And press'd a little they will weep pure milk.
Then comes the belly, seated next below,
Like a fair mountain in Riphean snow,
Where Nature, in a whiteness without spot,
Hath in the middle tied a Gordian knot.
Now love invites me to survey her thighs,
Swelling in likeness like two crystal skies,
Which to the knees by Nature fastened on,
Derive their ever well 'greed motion.
Her legs with two clear calves, like silver tri'd,
Kindly swell up with little pretty pride,
Leaving a distance for the comely[E] small
To beautify the leg and foot withal.
Then lowly, yet most lovely stand the feet,
Round, short and clear, like pounded spices sweet,
And whatsoever thing they tread upon
They make it scent like bruised cinnamon.
The lovely shoulders now allure the eye
To see two tablets of pure ivory
From which two arms like branches seem to spread
With tender rind[F] and silver coloured,
With little hands and fingers long and small
To grace a lute, a viol, virginal.
In length each finger doth his next excel,
Each richly headed with a pearly shell.
Thus every part in contrariety
Meet in the whole and make a harmony,
As divers strings do singly disagree,
But form'd by number make sweet melody.

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