by: George Wither (1588-1667)

      E so oft my fancy drew
      Here and there, that I ne'er knew
      Where to place desire before
      So that range it might no more;
      But as he that passeth by
      Where, in all her jollity,
      Flora's riches in a row
      Do in seemly order grow,
      And a thousand flowers stand
      Bending as to kiss his hand;
      Out of which delightful store
      One he may take and no more;
      Long he pausing doubteth whether
      Of those fair ones he should gather.
      First the Primrose courts his eyes,
      Then the Cowslip he espies;
      Next the Pansy seems to woo him,
      Then Carnations bow unto him;
      Which whilst that enamour'd swain
      From the stalk intends to strain,
      (As half-fearing to be seen)
      Prettily her leaves between
      Peeps the Violet, pale to see
      That her virtues slighted be;
      Which so much his liking wins
      That to seize her he begins.
      Yet before he stoop'd so low
      He his wanton eye did throw
      On a stem that grew more high,
      And the Rose did there espy.
      Who, beside her previous scent,
      To procure his eyes content
      Did display her goodly breast,
      Where he found at full exprest
      All the good that Nature showers
      On a thousand other flowers;
      Wherewith he affected takes it,
      His belovèd flower he makes it,
      And without desire of more
      Walks through all he saw before.
      So I wand'ring but erewhile
      Through the garden of this Isle,
      Saw rich beauties, I confess,
      And in number numberless:
      Yea, so differing lovely too,
      That I had a world to do
      Ere I could set up my rest,
      Where to choose and choose the best.
      Thus I fondly fear'd, till Fate
      (Which I must confess in that
      Did a greater favour to me
      Than the world can malice do me)
      Show'd to me that matchless flower,
      Subject for this song of our;
      Whose perfection having eyed,
      Reason instantly espied
      That Desire, which ranged abroad,
      There would find a period:
      And no marvel if it might,
      For it there hath all delight,
      And in her hath nature placed
      What each several fair one graced.
      Let who list, for me, advance
      The admirèd flowers of France,
      Let who will praise and behold
      The reservèd Marigold;
      Let the sweet-breath'd Violet now
      Unto whom she pleaseth bow;
      And the fairest Lily spread
      Where she will her golden head;
      I have such a flower to wear
      That for those I do not care.
      Let the young and happy swains
      Playing on the Britain plains
      Court unblamed their shepherdesses,
      And with their gold curlèd tresses
      Toy uncensured, until I
      Grudge at their prosperity.
      Let all times, both present, past,
      And the age that shall be last,
      Vaunt the beauties they bring forth.
      I have found in one such worth,
      That content I neither care
      What the best before me were;
      Nor desire to live and see
      Who shall fair hereafter be;
      For I know the hand of Nature
      Will not make a fairer creature.




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