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

Hence Away, You Sirens

George Wither (1588–1667)

HENCE away, you Sirens, leave me,

And unclasp your wanton arms;

Sug’red words shall ne’er deceive me

Though you prove a thousand charms.

Fie, fie, forbear;

No common snare

Could ever my affection chain;

Your painted baits

And poor deceits

Are all bestowed on me in vain.

I’m no slave to such as you be;

Neither shall a snowy breast,

Wanton eye, or lip of ruby

Ever rob me of my rest;

Go, go, display

Your beauty’s ray

To some o’ersoon enamoured swain:

Those common wiles

Of sighs and smiles

Are all bestowed on me in vain.

I have elsewhere vowed a duty;

Turn away your tempting eyes,

Show not me a naked beauty,

Those impostures I despise;

My spirit loathes

Where gaudy clothes

And feignèd oaths may love obtain:

I love her so

Whose look swears no,

That all your labours will be vain.

Can he prize the tainted posies

Which on every breast are worn,

That may pluck the spotless roses

From their never-touchèd thorn?

I can go rest

On her sweet breast

That is the pride of Cynthia’s train;

Then stay your tongues,

Your mermaid songs

Are all bestowed on me in vain.

He’s a fool that basely dallies

Where each peasant mates with him;

Shall I haunt the throngèd vallies,

Whilst there’s noble hills to climb?

No, no, though clowns

Are scared with frowns,

I know the best can but disdain:

And those I’ll prove,

So shall your love

Be all bestowed on me in vain.

Yet I would not deign embraces

With the greatest-fairest she

If another shared those graces

Which had been bestowed on me.

I gave that one

My love, where none

Shall come to rob me of my gain.

Your fickle hearts

Makes tears, and arts

And all, bestowed on me in vain.

I do scorn to vow a duty

Where each lustful lad may woo;

Give me her, whose sun-like beauty

Buzzards dare not soar unto:

She, she it is

Affords that bliss,

For which I would refuse no pain;

But such as you,

Fond fools, adieu,

You seek to captive me in vain.

Proud she seemed in the beginning

And disdained my looking on,

But that coy one in the winning,

Proves a true one, being won.

Whate’er betide

She’ll ne’er divide

The favour she to me shall deign;

But your fond love

Will fickle prove,

And all that trust in you are vain.

Therefore know, when I enjoy one,

And for love employ my breath,

She I court shall be a coy one

Though I win her with my death.

A favour there

Few aim at dare;

And if, perhaps, some lover plain;

She is not won

Nor I undone

By placing of my love in vain.

Leave me, then, you Sirens, leave me,

Seek no more to work my harms,

Crafty wiles cannot deceive me,

Who am proof against your charms:

You labour may

To lead astray

The heart that constant shall remain;

And I the while

Will sit and smile

To see you spend your time in vain.