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GEORGE WITHER

1588-1667

244                                              I loved a Lass

I LOVED a lass, a fair one,
   As fair as eer was seen;
She was indeed a rare one,
   Another Sheba Queen:
But, fool as then I was,
   I thought she loved me too:
But now, alas! shes left me,
   Falero, lero, loo!
Her hair like gold did glister,
Each eye was like a star,
She did surpass her sister,
Which passd all others far;
She would me honey call,
ShedO shed kiss me too!
But now, alas! shes left me,
Falero, lero, loo!
In summer time to Medley
   My love and I would go;
The boatmen there stood readly
   My love and me to row.
For cream there would we call,
   For cakes and for prunes too;
But now, alas! shes left me,
   Falero, lero, loo!
Her cheeks were like the cherry,
   Her skin was white as snow;
When she was blithe and merry
   She angel-like did show;
Her waist exceeding small,
   The fives did fit her shoe:
But now, alas! shes left me,
   Falero, lero, loo!
In summer time or winter
   She had her hearts desire;
I still did scorn to stint her
   From sugar, sack, or fire;
The world went round about,
   No cares we ever knew:
But now, alas! shes left me,
   Falero, lero, loo!
To maidens vows and swearing
   Henceforth no credit give;
You may give them the hearing,
   But never them believe;
They are as false as fair,
   Unconstant, frail, untrue:
For mine, alas! hath left me,
   Falero, lero, loo!

245                                       The Lovers Resolution

SHALL I, wasting in despair,
Die because a womans fair?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
Cause anothers rosy are?
Be she fairer than the day,
Or the flowry meads in May,
   If she think not well of me,
   What care I how fair she be?
Shall my silly heart be pined
Cause I see a woman kind?
Or a well disposàd nature
Joinàd with a lovely feature?
Be she meeker, kinder, than
Turtle-dove or pelican,
   If she be not so to me,
   What care I how kind she be?
Shall a womans virtues move
Me to perish for her love?
Or her well-deservings known
Make me quite forget my own?
Be she with that goodness blest
Which may merit name of Best,
   If she be not such to me,
   What care I how good she be?
Cause her fortune seems too high,
Shall I play the fool and die?
She that bears a noble mind,
If not outward helps she find,
Thinks what with them he would do
That without them dares her woo;
   And unless that mind I see,
   What care I how great she be?
Great, or good, or kind, or fair,
I will neer the more despair;
If she love me, this believe,
I will die ere she shall grieve;
If she slight me when I woo,
I can scorn and let her go;
   For if she be not for me,
   What care I for whom she be?

246                                            The Choice

ME so oft my fancy drew
Here and there, that I neer knew
Where to place desire before
So that range it might no more;
But as he that passeth by
Where, in all her jollity,
Floras riches in a row
Do in seemly order grow,
And a thousand flowers stand
Bending as to kiss his hand;
Out of which delightful store
One he may take and no more;
Long he pausing doubteth whether
Of those fair ones he should gather.
First the Primrose courts his eyes,
Then the Cowslip he espies;
Next the Pansy seems to woo him,
Then Carnations bow unto him;
Which whilst that enamourd swain
From the stalk intends to strain,
(As half-fearing to be seen)
Prettily her leaves between
Peeps the Violet, pale to see
That her virtues slighted be;
Which so much his liking wins
That to seize her he begins.
Yet before he stoopd so low
He his wanton eye did throw
On a stem that grew more high,
And the Rose did there espy.
Who, beside her previous scent,
To procure his eyes content
Did display her goodly breast,
Where he found at full exprest
All the good that Nature showers
On a thousand other flowers;
Wherewith he affected takes it,
His belovàd flower he makes it,
And without desire of more
Walks through all he saw before.
So I wandring but erewhile
Through the garden of this Isle,
Saw rich beauties, I confess,
And in number numberless:
Yea, so differing lovely too,
That I had a world to do
Ere I could set up my rest,
Where to choose and choose the best.
Thus I fondly feard, till Fate
(Which I must confess in that
Did a greater favour to me
Than the world can malice do me)
Showd to me that matchless flower,
Subject for this song of our;
Whose perfection having eyed,
Reason instantly espied
That Desire, which ranged abroad,
There would find a period:
And no marvel if it might,
For it there hath all delight,
And in her hath nature placed
What each several fair one graced.
Let who list, for me, advance
The admiràd flowers of France,
Let who will praise and behold
The reservàd Marigold;
Let the sweet-breathd Violet now
Unto whom she pleaseth bow;
And the fairest Lily spread
Where she will her golden head;
I have such a flower to wear
That for those I do not care.
Let the young and happy swains
Playing on the Britain plains
Court unblamed their shepherdesses,
And with their gold curlàd tresses
Toy uncensured, until I
Grudge at their prosperity.
Let all times, both present, past,
And the age that shall be last,
Vaunt the beauties they bring forth.
I have found in one such worth,
That content I neither care
What the best before me were;
Nor desire to live and see
Who shall fair hereafter be;
For I know the hand of Nature
Will not make a fairer creature.

247                                           A Widows Hymn

HOW near me came the hand of Death,
When at my side he struck my dear,
And took away the precious breath
   Which quickend my belovàd peer!1
     How helpless am I thereby made!
     By day how grieved, by night how sad!
And now my lifes delight is gone,
Alas! how am I left alone!
The voice which I did more esteem
   Than music in her sweetest key,
Those eyes which unto me did seem
   More comfortable than the day;
     Those now by me, as they have been,
     Shall never more be heard or seen;
But what I once enjoyd in them
Shall seem hereafter as a dream.
Lord! keep me faithful to the trust
   Which my dear spouse reposed in me:
To him now dead preserve me just
   In all that should performàd be!
     For though our being man and wife
     Extendeth only to this life,
Yet neither life nor death should end
The being of a faithful friend.

1 peer: companion.

 

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