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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


The Apothecary

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

I DO remember an apothecary—

And hereabouts he dwells—whom late I noted

In tattered weeds, with overwhelming brows,

Culling of simples. Meagre were his looks;

Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

An alligator stuff’d, and other skins

Of ill-shap’d fishes; and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes,

Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,

Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses,

Were thinly scatter’d to make up a show.

Noting this penury, to myself I said,

And if a man did need a poison now—

Whose sale is present death in Mantua—

Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.

O, this same thought did but forerun my need;

And this same needy man must sell it me.

As I remember, this should be the house;

Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.—

What, ho! apothecary!