Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
The Author’s Resolution in a Sonnet (from Fidelia)
By George Wither (1588–1667)
 
SHALL I, wasting in despaire
Dye, because a woman ’s fair?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
Cause anothers Rosie are?
    Be she fairer than the Day        5
    Or the flowry Meads in May,
    If she thinke not well of me,
    What care I how faire she be?
 
Shall my seely heart be pin’d
Cause I see a woman kind?        10
Or a well disposed Nature
Joyned with a lovely feature?
    Be she Meeker, Kinder than
    Turtle-dove or Pellican:
    If she be not so to me,        15
    What care I how kind she be?
 
Shall a woman’s Vertues move
Me to perish for her Love?
Or her wel deservings knowne
Make me quite forget mine own?        20
    Be she with that Goodness blest
    Which may merit name of best:
    If she be not such to me,
    What care I how Good she be?
 
Cause her Fortune seems too high        25
Shall I play the fool and die?
She that beares a Noble mind,
If not outward helpes she find,
    Thinks what with them he wold do,
    That without them dares her woe.        30
    And unlesse that Minde I see
    What care I how great she be?
 
Great, or Good, or Kind, or Faire
I will ne’re the more despaire:
If she love me (this beleeve)        35
I will Die ere she shall grieve.
    If she slight me when I woe,
    I can scorne and let her goe,
    For if she be not for me
    What care I for whom she be? 1        40
 
Note 1. I have transcribed this song verbatim et literatim (for it is too precious not to be given exactly as it first saw the light) from the original edition of Fidelia in which it first appeared. Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in his Handbook to Early English Literature assumes the existence of an edition in 1617, before the well-known second edition in the later part of the same year; but adds:—‘This first edition is supposed to have been privately printed. No copy is at present known.’ There is, however, a copy of this treasure in the Bodleian Library. As I write, the title page of it is before me:—Fidelia, London, Printed by Nicholas Okes, 1615. [back]
 
 
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