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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Eclogue: A Man, a Woman, Sir Roger

Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)

WOULD’ST thou know nature in her better part?

Go, search the huts and bordels of the hind;

If they have any, it is rough-made art,

In them you see the naked form of kind;

Haveth your mind a liking of a mind?

Would it know every thing, as it might be?

Would it hear phrase of vulgar from the hind,

Without wiseacre words and knowledge free?

If so, read this, which I disporting penned,

If naught beside, its rhyme may it commend.

Man.But whither, fair maid, do ye go?

O where do you bend your way?

I will know whither you go,

I will not be answered nay.

Woman.To Robin and Nell, all down in the dell,

To help them at making of hay.

Man.Sir Roger, the parson, have hired me there,

Come, come, let us trip it away,

We’ll work and we’ll sing, and we’ll drink of strong beer,

As long as the merry summer’s day.

Woman.How hard is my doom to wurch!

Much is my woe:

Dame Agnes, who lies in the church

With birlette gold,

With gilded aumeres, strong, untold,

What was she more than me, to be so?

Man.I see Sir Roger from afar,

Tripping over the lea;

I ask why the loverd’s son

Is more than me.

Sir Roger.The sultry sun doth hie apace his wain,

From every beam a seed of life do fall;

Quickly scille up the hay upon the plain,

Methinks the cocks beginneth to grow tall.

This is alyche our doom; the great, the small,

Must wither and be dried by deathìs dart.

See! the sweet floweret hath no sweet at all;

It with the rank weed beareth equal part.

The craven, warrior, and the wise be blent,

Alyche to dry away with those they did lament.

Man.All-a-boon, Sir Priest, all-a-boon!

By your priestship, now say unto me;

Sir Gaufrid the knight, who liveth hard by,

Why should he than me be more great,

In honour, knighthood, and estate?

Sir Roger.Attourne thine eyes around this hayèd mee;

Carefully look around the chaper dell;

An answer to thy barganette here see,

This withered floweret will a lesson tell;

Arist, it blew, it flourished, and did well,

Looking disdainfully on the neighbour green;

Yet with the deignèd green its glory fell,

Eftsoon it shrank upon the day-burnt plain,

Did not its look, whilèst it there did stand,

To crop it in the bud move some dread hand?

Such is the way of life; the loverd’s ente

Moveth the robber him therefor to slea;

If thou hast ease, the shadow of content,

Believe the truth, there’s none more haile than thee.

Thou workest; well, can that a trouble be?

Sloth more would jade thee than the roughest day.

Could’st thou the hidden part of soulès see,

Thou would’st eftsoon see truth in what I say.

But let me hear thy way of life, and then

Hear thou from me the lives of other men.

Man.I rise with the sun,

Like him to drive the wain,

And ere my work is done,

I sing a song or twain.

I follow the plough-tail,

With a long jubb of ale.

But of the maidens, oh!

It lacketh not to tell;

Sir Priest might not cry woe,

Could his bull do as well.

I dance the best heiedeygnes,

And foil the wisest feygnes.

On every saint’s high-day

With the minstrel am I seen,

All a-footing it away

With maidens on the green.

But oh! I wish to be more great

In glory, tenure, and estate.

Sir Roger.Hast thou not seen a tree upon a hill,

Whose unlist branches reachen far to sight?

When furious tempests do the heaven fill,

It shaketh dire, in dole and much affright;

Whilst the dwarf floweret, with humility dight,

Standeth unhurt, unquashèd by the storm.

Such is a picte of life; the man of might

Is tempest-chafed, his woe great as his form;

Thyself, a floweret of a small account,

Wouldst harder feel the wind, as thou didst higher mount.