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

The Nymph’s Reply

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?–1618)

IF all the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move

To live with thee and be thy Love.

But Time drives flocks from field to fold;

When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;

And Philomel becometh dumb,

The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields

To wayward Winter reckoning yields:

A honey tongue, a heart of gall,

Is fancy’s spring but sorrow’s fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,

Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,

Soon break, soon wither—soon forgotten,

In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy-buds,

Thy coral clasps and amber studs,—

All these in me no means can move

To come to thee and be thy Love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,

Had joys no date, nor age no need.

Then those delights my mind might move

To live with thee and be thy Love.