Long while I sought to what I might compare
Those powerful eyes, which lighten my dark spright
Yet find I nought on earth to which I dare
Resemble th'image of their goodly light
Not to the sun, for they do shine by night
Nor to the moon, for they are changed never
Nor to the stars, for they have purer sight
Nor to the fire, for they consume not ever
Nor to the lightning, for they still persever
Nor to the diamond, for they are more tender
Nor unto crystal, far nought may them sever
Nor unto glass, such baseness might offend her
Then to the Maker self they likest be
Whose light doth lighten all that here we see
In Spenser's "Long White I Sought..." we see the clear division of three sections in the sonnet: a statement of the problem, an exploitation of the problem, and a solution of the problem.
Lines 1-4: a statement that the poet can find nothing suitable with which to compare the"powerful eyes" of his beloved.
Lines 5-12: a series of images to which he attempts to compare the eyes, but fails.
Lines 13-14: a resolution that only the Lord shows a brilliance worthy of comparison.
In the opening quatrain the speaker reveals the magnetic attraction he feels for the eyes of his beloved, "which lighten my dark spright [spirit]. In the octave, the speaker attempts to find a suitable object to coparison. In an odd method, the speaker chooses a series of images in a decrescendo effect, beginning with a powerful celestial body, the sun, and ending with a common manufactured object, glass. The conflict of celestial versus worldly and natural versus artificial emphasizes the uniqueness of the eyes, for nothing serves as a worthwhile metaphor. Note the decelerarion and the shortcoming of each image:
sun - shines not eternally, only during day
moon - changes shapes and cycles
stars - fade according to sky conditions
fire - consumes itself into destruction
lightning - lasts but a brief time
diamond - displays an extremely hard quality