A Description of Beauty

O Beauty (beams, nay, flame
Of that great lamp of light)
That shines awhile with fame,
But presently makes night!
Like winter's short-lived bright,
Or summer's sudden gleams;
How much more dear, so much less lasting beams.

Winged love away doth fly,
And with it time doth bear;
And both take suddenly
The sweet, the fain, the dear.
A shining day and clear
Succeeds an obscene night;
And sorrow is the hue of sweet delight.

With what then dost thou swell,
O Youth of new-born day?
Wherein doth thy pride dwell,
O Beauty made of clay?
Not with so swift a way
The headlong current flies,
As do the sparkling rays of two fair eyes.

Do not thyself betray
With wantonizing years,
O Beauty, traitors gay.
Thy melting life that wears,
Appearing, disappears;
And with thy flying days
Ends all thy good of price, thy fair of praise.

Trust not, vain creditor,
Thy apt deceived view,
In thy false counsellor,
That never tells thee true:
Thy form and flattered hue,
Which shall so soon transpass,
Is far more fair than is thy looking-glass.

Enjoy thy April now,
Whilst it doth freely shine;
This lightning flash and show,
With that clear spirit of thine,
Will suddenly decline:
And thou, fair murdering eyes,
Shall be Love's tombs, where now his cradle lies.

Old trembling age will come,
With wrinkled cheeks and stains,
With motion troublesome;
With skin and bloodless veins,
That lively visage reaven,
And made deformed and old,
Hate sight of glass it loved so to behold.

Thy gold and scarlet shall
Pale silver colour be;
Thy row of pearls shall fall
Like withered leaves from tree;
And thou shalt shortly see
Thy face and hair to grow
All ploughed with furrows, over-sown with snow.

That which on Flora's breast,
All fresh and flourishing,
Aurora newly dressed
Saw in her dawning spring;
Quite dry and languishing,
Deprived of honour quite,
Day-closing Hesperus beholds at night.

Fair is the lily; fair
The rose, of flowers the eye;
Both wither in the air,
Their beauteous colours die;
And so at length shall lie,
Deprived of former grace,
The lilies of thy breasts, the roses of thy face.

What then will it avail,
O Youth advised ill,
In lap of Beauty frail
To nurse a wayward will,
Like snake in sun-warm hill?
Pluck, pluck betime thy flower,
That springs, and perisheth in one short hour.
Author of original: 
Giambattista Marino
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