Katherine Philips

To my Lady M. Cavendish,*
choosing the name of

THAT Nature in your frame has taken care,
As well your birth as beauty do declare,
Since we at once discover in your face,
The lustre of your eyes and of your race:
And that your shape and fashion does attest,
So bright a form has yet a brighter Guest,†
To future times authentic fame shall bring,
Historians shall relate, and Poets sing.
But since your boundless mind upon my head,
Some rays of splendour is content to shed;
And lest I suffer by the great surprise,
Since you submit to meet me in disguise,
Can lay aside what dazzles vulgar sight,
And to Orinda can be Policrite.
You must endure my vows and find the way
To entertain such rites as I can pay:
For so the Pow'r Divine new praise acquires,
By scorning nothing that it once inspires:
I have no merits that your smile can win,
Nor offering to appease you when I sin;
Nor can my useless homage hope to raise,
When what I cannot serve, I strive to praise:
But I can love, and love at such a pitch,
As I dare boast it will ev'n you enrich;
For kindness is a mine, when great and true,
Of nobler ore than ever Indians knew;
'Tis all that mortals can on Heav'n bestow,
And all that Heav'n can value here below.

[AJ Notes:
    * Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle,
a celebrated writer in her own right.
    † Guest, i.e., the soul. cf. Ralegh's The Lie ]



Philips, Katherine. Poems, 1678.
in Minor Poets of the Caroline Period.
George Saintsbury, ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905. 569-571.

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