Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
The Primrose
By Thomas Carew (1595?–1639?) or Robert Herrick (1591–1674)
ASK 1 me why I send you here
This Sweet Infanta of the year?
Ask me why I send to you
This Primrose, thus bepearl’d with dew?
I will whisper to your ears:        5
The sweets of love are mix’d with tears.
Ask me why this flower does show
So yellow-green, and sickly too?
Ask me why the stalk is weak
And bending, [yet it doth not break]?        10
I will answer:—These discover
What doubts and fears are in a lover.
Note 1. Ask me why I send you here.  This song has been attributed to both Carew and Herrick, but is claimed unreservedly for Herrick in Grosart’s, Palgrave’s, and Pollard’s editions of the poet. Quiller-Couch in his Golden Pomp says, “I have used Carew’s text which appears to me superior;” but on examining the same editor’s Oxford Book of English Verse there is discovered his use of the accepted text from the Hesperides, 1648, which seems to leave no doubt as to his final opinion of the authorship. I append the reading of the first stanza of Carew’s text, in which the variants are mostly contained:
  Ask me why I send you here
This firstling of the infant year?
Ask me why I send to you
This Primrose, all bepearl’d with dew?
I straight whisper to your ears:
The sweets of love are washed with tears.

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