From ‘An Hymn of Heavenly Beauty’, by Edmund Spenser
Fair is the heaven where happy souls have place,
In full enjoyment of felicity,
Whence they do still behold the glorious face
Of the divine eternal Majesty;
More fair is that, where those Ideas on high
Enranged be, which Plato so admired,
And pure Intelligences from God inspired.
Yet fairer is that heaven, in which do reign
The sovereign Powers and mighty Potentates,
Which in their high protections do contain
All mortal princes and imperial states;
And fairer yet, whereas the royal Seats
And heavenly Dominations are set,
From whom all earthly governance is fet.
Yet far more fair be those bright Cherubins,
Which all with golden wings are overdight,
And those eternal burning Seraphins,
Which from their faces dart out fiery light;
Yet fairer than they both, and much more bright,
Be th’ Angels and Archangels, which attend
On God’s own person, without rest or end.
These thus in fair each other far excelling,
As to the highest they approach more near,
Yet is that highest far beyond all telling,
Fairer than all the rest which there appear,
Though all their beauties join’d together were;
How then can mortal tongue hope to express
The image of such endless perfectness?