Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
The Palmer’s Ode in Never Too Late
By Robert Greene (1558–1592)
OLD Menalcas, on a day,
As in field this shepherd lay,
Tuning of his oaten pipe,
Which he hit with many a stripe,
Said to Coridon that he        5
Once was young and full of glee.
‘Blithe and wanton was I then:
Such desires follow men.
As I lay and kept my sheep,
Came the God that hateth sleep,        10
Clad in armour all of fire,
Hand in hand with queen Desire,
And with a dart that wounded nigh,
Pierced my heart as I did lie;
That when I woke I ’gan swear        15
Phillis beauty’s palm did bear.
Up I start, forth went I,
With her face to feed mine eye;
There I saw Desire sit,
That my heart with love had hit,        20
Laying forth bright beauty’s hooks
To entrap my gazing looks.
Love I did, and ’gan to woo,
Pray and sigh; all would not do:
Women, when they take the toy,        25
Covet to be counted coy.
Coy she was, and I ’gan court;
She thought love was but a sport;
Profound hell was in my thought;
Such a pain desire had wrought,        30
That I sued with sighs and tears;
Still ingrate she stopped her ears,
Till my youth I had spent.
Last a passion of repent
Told me flat, that Desire        35
Was a brond of love’s fire,
Which consumeth men in thrall,
Virtue, youth, wit, and all.
At this saw, back I start,
Beat Desire from my heart,        40
Shook off Love, and made an oath
To be enemy to both.
Old I was when thus I fled
Such fond toys as cloyed my head,
But this I learned at Virtue’s gate,        45
The way to good is never late.’

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