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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Shepherd’s Wife’s Song
By Robert Greene (1558–1592)
 
From ‘The Mourning Garment’

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 love to frown:        5
            Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires do 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 do gain,        15
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
 
He kisseth first, then sits as blithe to eat
His cream and curds, as doth the king his meat;
            And blither too,
For kings have often fears when they do sup,        20
Where shepherds dread no poison in their cup:
            Ah then, ah then,
If country loves such sweet desires do 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 do 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 sith;
            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 do gain,
What lady would not love a shepherd swain?        40
 
 
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