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

Against Them Who Lay Unchastity to the Sex of Women

William Habington (1605–1654)

THEY meet but with unwholesome springs,

And summers which infectious are;

They hear but when the mermaid sings,

And only see the falling star,

Who ever dare

Affirm no woman chaste and fair.

Go, cure your fevers; and you’ll say

The dog-days scorch not all the year;

In copper mines no longer stay,

But travel to the west, and there

The right ones see,

And grant all gold’s not alchemy.

What madman, ’cause the glow-worm’s flame

Is cold, swears there’s no warmth in fire?

’Cause some make forfeit of their name,

And slave themselves to man’s desire,

Shall the sex, free

From guilt, damn’d to the bondage be?

Nor grieve, Castara, though ’t were frail;

Thy virtue then would brighter shine,

When thy example should prevail,

And every woman’s faith be thine.

And were there none,

’Tis majesty to rule alone.