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

A Ballad upon a Wedding

Sir John Suckling (1609–1642)

I TELL thee, Dick, where I have been,

Where I, the rarest things have seen;

O, things without compare!

Such sights again cannot be found

In any place on English ground,

Be it at Wake or Fair.

At Charing Cross, hard by the way

Where we (thou know’st!) do sell our hay,

There is a house with stairs;

And there, did I see coming down

Such folk as are not in our town,

Forty at least, in pairs.

Amongst the rest, one pest’lent fine

(His beard no bigger, though, than thine)

Walked on before the rest.

Our landlord looks like nothing to him;

The King (God bless him!), ’twould undo him,

Should he go still so drest.

At Course-a-Park, without all doubt,

He should have first been taken out

By all the Maids i’ th’ town;

Though lusty Roger there had been

Or little George upon the Green,

Or Vincent of the Crown.

But wot you what? The Youth was going

To make an end of all his wooing.

The Parson for him stayed;

Yet, by his leave, for all his haste,

He did not so much wish all past,

Perchance, as did the Maid.

The Maid (and thereby hangs a tale!):

For such a Maid no Whitsun-Ale

Could ever yet produce;

No grape that ’s kindly ripe could be

So round, so plump, so soft, as She;

Nor half so full of juice!

Her Finger was so small, the ring

Would not stay on; which they did bring.

It was too wide a peck;

And to say truth, (for out it must)

It looked like the great collar (just)

About our young colt’s neck.

Her Feet, beneath her petticoat,

Like little mice stole in and out,

As if they feared the light:

But O, She dances such a way!

No sun, upon an Easter Day,

Is half so fine a sight.

Her Cheeks so rare a white was on;

No daisy makes comparison;

Who sees them is undone;

For streaks of red were mingled there,

Such as are on a Katherine pear

(The side that’s next the sun).

Her lips were red, and one was thin

Compared to that was next her chin,

Some bee had stung it newly:

But, Dick! her Eyes so guard her face;

I durst no more upon them gaze,

Than on the sun in July.

Her Mouth so small, when she does speak,

Thou’dst swear her teeth, her words did break,

That they might passage get:

But She so handled still the matter,

They came as good as ours, or better;

And are not spent a whit!…

Just in the nick, the Cook knocked thrice,

And all the Waiters, in a trice,

His summons did obey;

Each Serving Man, with dish in hand,

Marched boldly up, like our Trained Band,

Presented, and away!

When all the meat was on the table;

What man of knife, or teeth, was able

To stay to be intreated!

And this the very reason was,

Before the Parson could say Grace,

The company was seated!

The business of the kitchen ’s great,

For it is fit that men should eat;

Nor was it there denied.

(Passion o’ me! how I run on!

There’s that, that would be thought upon,

I trow, besides the Bride!)

Now, hats fly off; and Youths carouse!

Healths first go round; and then the house!

The Bride’s came thick and thick;

And when ’twas named another’s Health;

Perhaps, he made it hers by stealth;

(And who could help it, Dick?)

O’ th’ sudden, up they rise and dance;

Then sit again, and sigh, and glance;

Then dance again and kiss!

Thus, several ways, the time did pass;

Whilst every woman wished her place,

And every man wished his!…