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AN ELIZABETHAN MISCELLANY

The age of Elizabeth is famous in English literature not only for the great names of Spenser and Shakespeare, but for the number and excellence of its minor poets. England was at that time, as some one has prettily said, “a nest of singing birds." There is hardly a kind of poetry in which these writers did not do work of a very high order. The most distinctive production of the age was, of course, the drama; but of this it is impossible to give any specimens here. Next to the drama, however, the greatest achievement of these poets was in the lyric, or short song. The latter part of Elizabeth's reign saw a great outburst of music, particularly of song music. The lute, the favorite instrument of the day, was in the hands of almost every one. Songs were called for everywhere, at court, in the theater, in the taverns, in the very barber shops, where a lute hung on the wall to beguile the leisure moments of the waiting customers. The most popular books of the day were collections of songs and sonnets. The favorite romances of the time contained numbers of charming lyrics, and the reader of Shakespeare's plays will remember how often and how delightfully the dialogue is broken by a song.

The collection here printed is meant to give some faint idea, not only of the beauty, but also of the wide range, of this lyric outburst. Between Sidney's simple ditty and the heroic ballad and the passionate sonnet of Michael Drayton, we find love songs, bridal songs, morning songs, and meditations on death, written in widely varying metrical forms, and conceived in wholly different tempers. , They were not all set to music and sung; but all of them have what was the common property of the poets of that age, the singing note. Even now the verses seem to sing them. selves. And it is this quality, even more than their simplicity, freshness, directness, and lovely imagery, that renders these old songs so charming to the lover of English poetry.

MY TRUE LOVE HATH MY HEART

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for another given :
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven :

My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

5

His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My love in him his thoughts and senses guides :
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides:
My true love hath my heart, and I have his.

PHILIP SIDNEY.

IO

ROSALIND'S MADRIGAL

Love in my bosom like a bee

Doth suck his sweet :
Now with his wings he plays with me,

Now with his feet.
Within mine

eyes

he makes his nest,
His bed amidst my tender breast;
My kisses are his daily feast;
And yet he robs me of my rest.

Ah, wanton, will ye?

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If I sleep, then percheth he

With pretty flight,
And makes his pillow of my knee

The livelong night.
Strike I my lute, he tunes the string;
He music plays, if so I sing;

15

He lends me every lovely thing :
Yet cruel he my heart doth sting.

Whist, wanton, still ye!

20

Else I with roses every day

Will whip you hence,
And bind you, when you long to play,
For

your offence.
I'll shut mine eyes to keep you in,
I'll make you fast it for your sin,
I 'll count your power not worth a pin.
Alas, what hereby shall I win,

If he gainsay me?

25

30

What if I beat the wanton boy

With many a rod ?
He will repay me with annoy,

Because a god.
Then sit thou safely on my knee,
Then let thy bower my bosom be;
Lurk in mine eyes, I like of thee !
O Cupid, so thou pity me,
Spare not, but play thee!

THOMAS LODGE.

35

IN TIME OF PESTILENCE

ADIEU! Farewell earth's bliss !
This world uncertain is;
Fond are life's lustful joys,
Death proves them all but toys.
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die.

Lord have mercy on us !

5

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Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player's stage.
Mount we unto the sky!
I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us !

THOMAS NASH.

40

THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD TO HIS LOVE

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and vallies, dales and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

5

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

IO

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cup of flowers and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair-linéd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

15

A belt of straw and ivy-buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
An if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be

my love.

20

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