Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Song: ‘Follow a shadow, it still flies you’
By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
FOLLOW 1 a shadow, it still flies you,
  Seem to fly it, it will pursue;
So court a mistress, she denies you,
  Let her alone, she will court you.
Say, are not women truly then        5
Styled but the shadows of us men?
At morn and even, shades are longest;
  At noon, they are short or none;
So men at weakest, they are strongest,
  But grant us perfect, they’re not known.        10
Say, are not women truly then
Styled but the shadows of us men?
Note 1. From The Forest. Drummond of Hawthornden thus relates the origin of this song: “Pembroke and his Lady discoursing, the Earl said, ‘The women were men’s shadows,’ and she maintained them. Both appealing to Jonson, he affirmed it true, for which my Lady gave a penance to prove it in verse; hence his epigram.” [back]

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