Page images






EFORE our lady came on earth,

Little there was of joy or mirth;
About the borders of the sea
The sea-folk wandered heavily;
About the wintry river-side
The weary fishers would abide.

Alone within the weaving-room
The girls would sit before the loom,
And sing no song, and play no play;
Alone from dawn to hot mid-day,
From mid-day unto evening,

The men afield would work, nor sing,
'Mid weary thoughts of men and God,
Before thy feet the wet ways trod.


Unkissed, the merchant bore his care;
Unkissed, the knight went out to war;
Unkissed, the mariner came home;
Unkissed, the minstrel-men did roam.

Or in the stream the maids would stare,
Nor know why they were made so fair;
Their yellow locks, their bosoms white,
Their limbs well wrought for all delight,
Seemed foolish things that waited death,
As hopeless as the flowers beneath
The weariness of unkissed feet:
No life was bitter then, nor sweet.

Therefore, O Venus, well may we
Praise the green ridges of the sea,
O'er which, upon a happy day,
Thou cam'st to take our shame away.
Well may we praise the curdling foam
Amidst the which thy feet did bloom,
Flowers of the Gods; the yellow sand
They kissed atwixt the sea and land ;
The bee-beset, ripe-seeded grass,

Through which thy fine limbs first did pass;
The purple-dusted butterfly,

First blown against thy quivering thigh;
The first red rose that touched thy side,
And over-blown and fainting died;

The flickering of the orange shade,
Where first in sleep thy limbs were laid;
The happy day's sweet life and death,
Whose air first caught thy balmy breath-
Yea, all these things well praised may be;
But with what words shall we praise thee-
O Venus, O thou Love alive,

Born to give peace to souls that strive?

William Morris.




SHEPHERD, what's love?

I pray thee tell.

It is that fountain and that well

Where pleasure and repentance dwell;
It is, perhaps, that sauncing bell

That tolls all unto heaven or hell;
And this is love, as I heard tell.

Yet what is love? I prithee say.--
It is a work on holiday;
It is December matched with May,
When lusty bloods, in fresh array,
Hear ten months after of the play;
And this is love, as I hear say.

Yet what is love? Good shepherd, sain.-
It is a sunshine mixed with rain;

It is a tooth-ache, or like pain;

It is a game where none doth gain;

The lass saith no, and would full fain;

And this is love, as I hear sain.

Yet, shepherd, what is love, I pray?—

It is a yea, it is a nay;

A pretty kind of sporting fray;

It is a thing will soon away;

Then, nymphs, take 'vantage while ye may;

And this is love, as I hear say.

Yet, what is love? Good shepherd, show.-
A thing that creeps; it cannot go ;
A prize that passeth to and fro;
A thing for one, a thing for moe;
And he that proves shall find it so ;
And, shepherd, this is love, I trow.

Sir Walter Raleigh.


WHAT LOve is.


LOVE is a sickness full of woes,
All remedies refusing;

A plant that most with cutting grows,
Most barren with best using.

Why so?

More we enjoy it, more it dies;
If not enjoyed, it sighing cries,

Love is a torment of the mind,
A tempest everlasting;

And Jove hath made it of a kind

Not well, nor full, nor fasting.

Why so?

More we enjoy it, more it dies;

If not enjoyed, it sighing cries,


Samuel Daniel.



Over the mountains

And over the waves,

Under the fountains

And under the graves;
Under floods that are deepest,
Which Neptune obey;
Over rocks that are steepest,
Love will find out the way.

Where there is no place

For the glow-worm to lie;
Where there is no space
For receipt of a fly;

Where the midge dares not venture
Lest herself fast she lay;

If Love come, he will enter

And soon find out his way.

You may esteem him

A child for his might;

Or you may deem him

A coward from his flight;
But if she whom love doth honour
Be concealed from the day,
Set a thousand guards upon her,

Love will find out the way.

Some think to lose him

By having him confined;
And some do suppose him,

Poor thing, to be blind;

« PreviousContinue »