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

Olden Love-making

Nicholas Breton (1545–1626)

IN time of yore when shepherds dwelt

Upon the mountain rocks,

And simple people never felt

The pain of lover’s mocks;

But little birds would carry tales

’Twixt Susan and her sweeting,

And all the dainty nightingales

Did sing at lovers’ meeting:

Then might you see what looks did pass

Where shepherds did assemble,

And where the life of true love was

When hearts could not dissemble.

Then yea and nay was thought an oath

That was not to be doubted,

And when it came to faith and troth

We were not to be flouted.

Then did they talk of curds and cream,

Of butter, cheese and milk;

There was no speech of sunny beam

Nor of the golden silk.

Then for a gift a row of pins,

A purse, a pair of knives,

Was all the way that love begins;

And so the shepherd wives.

But now we have so much ado,

And are so sore aggrievèd,

That when we go about to woo

We cannot be believèd;

Such choice of jewels, rings and chains,

That may but favour move,

And such intolerable pains

Ere one can hit on love;

That if I still shall bide this life

’Twixt love and deadly hate,

I will go learn the country life

Or leave the lover’s state.