Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
II. Love’s Nature
The Shepherd and the King
Robert Greene (1558–1592)
 
AH! what is love? It is a pretty thing,
As sweet unto a shepherd as a king,
        And sweeter too;
For kings have cares that wait upon a crown,
And cares can make the sweetest face to frown:        5
        Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires gain,
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
 
His flocks are folded; he comes home at night
As merry as a king in his delight,        10
        And merrier too;
For kings bethink them what the state require,
Where shepherds, careless, carol by the fire:
        Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires gain,        15
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
 
He kisseth first, then sits as blithe to eat
His cream and curd as doth the king his meat,
        And blither too;
For kings have often fears when they sup,        20
Where shepherds dread no poison in their cup:
        Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires gain,
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
 
Upon his couch of straw he sleeps as sound        25
As doth the king upon his beds of down,
        More sounder too;
For cares cause kings full oft their sleep to spill,
Where weary shepherds lie and snort their fill:
        Ah then, ah then,        30
If country loves such sweet desires gain,
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
 
Thus with his wife he spends the year as blithe
As doth the king at every tide or syth,
        And blither too;        35
For kings have wars and broils to take in hand,
When shepherds laugh, and love upon the land;
        Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires gain,
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?        40
 
 
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