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Poem by George Wither
Me 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 beloved 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 admired flowers of France, Let who will praise and behold The reserved 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 curled 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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