William Shakespeare. 1564–1616

The Passionate Pilgrim, VII.

“Fair is my love, but not so fair as fickle”

FAIR is my love, but not so fair as fickle;  
Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty;  
Brighter than glass, and yet, as glass is, brittle;  
Softer than wax, and yet, as iron, rusty:  
  A lily pale, with damask dye to grace her,    5
  None fairer, nor none falser to deface her.  
Her lips to mine how often hath she join’d,  
Between each kiss her oaths of true love swearing!  
How many tales to please me hath she coin’d,  
Dreading my love, the loss thereof still fearing!   10
  Yet in the midst of all her pure protestings,  
  Her faith, her oaths, her tears, and all were jestings.  
She burn’d with love, as straw with fire flameth;  
She burn’d out love, as soon as straw outburneth;  
She fram’d the love, and yet she foil’d the framing;   15
She bade love last, and yet she fell a-turning.  
  Was this a lover, or a lecher whether?  
  Bad in the best, though excellent in neither.