Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand:
Whose loftie trees yclad with sommers pride
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide,
Not perceable with power of any starre:
And all within were pathes and alleies wide,

With footing worne, and leading inward farre:
Faire harbour that them seems; so in they entred arre. 63

And foorth they passe, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to heare the birdes sweete harmony,
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dred,
Seemd in their song to scorne the cruell sky.
Much can they praise the trees so straight and hy,
The sayling pine, the cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop elme, the poplar never dry,

The builder oake, sole king of forrests all,
The aspine good for staves, the cypresse funerall.


Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Until the blustring storme is overblowne;
When weening to returne, whence they did stray,
They cannot find that path, which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in wayes unknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their owne:

So many pathes, so many turnings seene,
That which of them to take in diverse doubt they been. 81





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Thomalin. It was upon a holiday,
When shepheardes groomes han leave to playe,

I cast to goe a shooting.
Long wandring up and downe the land,
With bowe and bolts in either hand,

For birds in bushes tooting,
At length within an Yvie todde,
(l'here shrouded was the little God)

I heard a busie bustling.
I bent my bolt against the bush,
Listening if any thing did rushe,

But then heard no more rustling:
Tho, peeping close into the thicke,
Might see the moving of some quicke,

Whose shape appeared not;
But were it faerie, feend, or snake,
My courage earnd it to awake,

And manfully thereat shotte.
With that sprong forth a naked swayne
With spotted winges, like Peacocks trayne,

And laughing lope to a tree;
His gylden quiver at his backe,
And silver bowe, which was but slacke,

Which lightly he bent at me:
That seeing, I levelde againe
And shott at him with might and maine,

As thicke as it had hayled.
So long I shott, that al was spent;
Tho pumie stones I hastly hent

And threwe; but nought availed :



30 35


He was so wimble and so wight,
From bough to bough he lepped light,

And oft the pumies latched.
Therewith affrayd, I ranne away:
But he, that earst seemd but to playe,

A shaft in earnest snatched,
And hit me running in the heele :
For then I little smart did feele,

But soone it sore encreased;
And now it ranckleth more and more,
And inwardly it festreth sore,

Ne wote I how to cease it.
Willie. Thomalin, I pittie thy plight,
Perdie with Love thou diddest fight :

I know him by a token;
For once I heard my father say,
How he him caught upon a day,

(Whereof he will be wroken)
Entangled in a fowling net,
Which he for carrion Crowes had set

That in our Peere-tree haunted :
Tho sayd, he was a winged lad,
But bowe and shafts as then none had,

Els had he sore been daunted.
But see, the Welkin thicks apace,
And stouping Phebus steepes his face:

Yts time to hast us homeward.






WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, the greatest of all English poets, cannot be at all adequately judged by such selections as appear in this book. In fact, no book of selections can do justice to Shakespeare. The well-known and beautiful passages from his plays which appear in so many collections of verse are like jewels torn from their setting. Shakespeare's dramas are units to be read through from beginning to end, not to be broken up into bits, in order that the so-called “ Beauties of Shakespeare" may be extracted from them.

In the selections in this book we give a little group of his songs, among the loveliest in any language, and four of the finest of his long series of sonnets.

Shakespeare was born in the pleasant little village of Stratfordon-Avon in the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign. He got the regular schooling of a citizen's son at that time, but never went to either of the universities. He married in his nineteenth year, and partly to provide for his wife and children, partly it may be to escape punishment for a poaching frolic, went up to London to seek his fortune. There he fell in with a company of actors, went upon the stage himself, and began to work over and improve old plays. Soon he began to write original plays, which attracted much attention by their beautiful poetry and splendid dramatic qualities. Many of them were performed before Queen Elizabeth, and when her successor came to the throne Shakespeare's company became the King's Players. Meanwhile Shakespeare, as an actor, as a playwright, and as a shareholder in his company, was making a handsome fortune. He acquired property in London and in his native town, obtained from the Heralds' office a coat of arms, and was thereby officially recognized as a gentleman. Finally, about 1611, he retired to spend the remainder of his life at Stratford. Here he died in 1616, probably of a fever due to the bad drainage of the little town.

Very little is known of Shakespeare's life in London. It is said that he began his career there by holding horses in front of the theater, and he is known to have been a good, though not a great, actor. In the sonnets we seem to learn that he had a young friend to whom he was tenderly attached. This friend was perhaps a nobleman at the court of Queen Elizabeth, and some writers think he was Lord Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated two of his poems. This friend proved for a time untrue to Shakespeare, and his desertion was one of the greatest sorrows of the poet's life. But at last they seem to have been reconciled. The four sonnets in this collection are all addressed to this friend.


UNDER the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither :

Here shall he see


No enemy

But winter and rough weather.


Who doth ambition shun
And love to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats
And pleas'd with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither :

Here shall he see

No enemy


But winter and rough weather.

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