Image is adapted from “Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s Mistress, Reclining (Lady with a Fan),” by Edouard Manet and “Costume design for “Venetian madmen” – Jester,” by Sergei Sudeikin.
I Serve a Mistress
by Anthony Munday
I serve a mistress whiter than snow,
Straighter than cedar, brighter than the glass,
Finer in trip and swifter than the roe,
More pleasant than the field of flowering grass;
More gladsome to my withering joys that fade,
Than winter’s sun or summer’s cooling shade.
Sweeter than swelling grape of ripest wine,
Softer than feathers of the fairest swan,
Smoother than jet, more stately than the pine,
Fresher than poplar, smaller than my span,
Clearer than beauty’s fiery pointed beam,
Or icy crust of crystal’s frozen stream.
Yet is she curster than the bear by kind,
And harder hearted than the agèd oak,
More glib than oil, more fickle than the wind,
Stiffer than steel, no sooner bent but broke.
Lo! thus my service is a lasting sore;
Yet will I serve, although I die therefore.