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

What Pleasure Have Great Princes


WHAT pleasure have great princes

More dainty to their choice

Than herdsmen wild, who careless

In quiet life rejoice,

And fortune’s fate not fearing

Sing sweet in summer morning?

Their dealings plain and rightful,

Are void of all deceit;

They never know how spiteful,

It is to kneel and wait

On favourite presumptuous,

Whose pride is vain and sumptuous.

All day their flocks each tendeth;

At night, they take their rest;

More quiet than who sendeth

His ship into the East,

Where gold and pearl are plenty;

But getting, very dainty.

For lawyers and their pleading,

They ’steem it not a straw;

They think that honest meaning

Is of itself a law:

Whence conscience judgeth plainly,

They spend no money vainly.

O happy who thus liveth!

Not caring much for gold;

With clothing which sufficeth

To keep him from the cold.

Though poor and plain his diet

Yet merry it is, and quiet.