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

Philomela’s Ode That She Sung in Her Arbour

Robert Greene (1558–1592)

SITTING by a river side,

Where a silent stream did glide,

Muse I did of many things,

That the mind in quiet brings.

I ’gan think how some men deem

Gold their god; and some esteem

Honour is the chief content

That to man in life is lent.

And some others do contend,

Quiet none like to a friend.

Others hold there is no wealth

Comparèd to a perfect health.

Some man’s mind in quiet stands,

When he is lord of many lands;

But I did sigh, and said all this

Was but a shade of perfect bliss;

And in my thoughts I did approve

Naught so sweet as is true love.

Love ’twixt lovers passeth these,

When mouth kisseth and heart grees,

With folded arms and lips meeting,

Each soul another sweetly greeting;

For by the breath the soul fleeteth,

And soul with soul in kissing meeteth.

If love be so sweet a thing,

That such happy bliss doth bring,

Happy is love’s sugared thrall;

But unhappy maidens all,

Who esteem your virgin’s blisses

Sweeter than a wife’s sweet kisses.

No such quiet to the mind,

As true love with kisses kind.

But if a kiss prove unchaste,

Then is true love quite disgraced.

Though love be sweet, learn this of me:

No sweet love but honesty.