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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

The Gift


FAIN would I have a pretty thing

To give unto my Lady:

I name no thing, nor I mean no thing,

But as pretty a thing as may be.

Twenty journeys would I make,

And twenty ways would hie me,

To make adventure for her sake,

To set some matter by me:
But fain would I have …

Some do long for pretty knacks,

And some for strange devices:

God send me that my Lady lacks,

I care not what the price is.
Thus fain …

I walk the town and tread the street,

In every corner seeking

The pretty thing I cannot meet,

That’s for my Lady’s liking:
For fain …

The mercers pull me, going by,

The silk-wives say ‘What lack ye?’

‘The thing you have not,’ then say I:

‘Ye foolish knaves, go pack ye!’
But fain …

It is not all the silk in Cheap,

Nor all the golden treasure;

Nor twenty bushels on a heap

Can do my Lady pleasure.
But fain …

But were it in the wit of man

By any means to make it,

I could for money buy it than,

And say, ‘Fair Lady, take it!’
Thus fain …

O Lady, what a luck is this,

That my good willing misseth

To find what pretty thing it is

That my Good Lady wisheth!

Thus fain would I have had this pretty thing

To give unto my Lady;

I said no harm, nor I meant no harm,

But as pretty a thing as may be.