What Cunning can Express

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What Cunning can Express (unknown) 
by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Published by Grosart in Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library, Vol. IV (1872) as "The Shepherds commendation of his Nymph" It was first puiblished in this version in Phoenix Nest (1593). It later appeared in England's Helicon (1600) under the title "What Shepherd can Express". The England's Helicon version begins with the lines "What shepherd can express / The favour of her face?"

What cunning can express
 The favour of her face?
 To whom in this distress,
 I do appeal for grace.
 A thousand Cupids fly
 About her gentle eye.
 
From which each throws a dart,
 That kindleth soft sweet fire:
 Within my sighing heart,
 Possessed by Desire.
 No sweeter life I try,
 Than in her love to die.
 
The lily in the field,
 That glories in his white,
 For pureness now must yield,
 And render up his right;
 Heaven pictured in her face,
 Doth promise joy and grace.
 
Fair Cynthia’s silver light,
 That beats on running streams,
 Compares not with her white,
 Whose hairs are all sun-beams;
 So bright my Nymph doth shine,
 As day unto my eyne.
 
With this there is a red,
 Exceeds the Damask-Rose;
 Which in her cheeks is spread,
 Whence every favour grows.
 In sky there is no star,
 But she surmounts it far.
 
When Phoebus from the bed
 Of Thetis doth arise,
 The morning blushing red,
 In fair carnation wise;
 He shows in my Nymph’s face,
 As Queen of every grace.
 
This pleasant lily white,
 This taint of roseate red;
 This Cynthia’s silver light,
 This sweet fair Dea spread;
 These sunbeams in mine eye,
 These beauties make me die

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.