Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
The Scorner Scorned
By George Wither (1588–1667)
SHALL 1 I, wasting in despair,
Die because a woman’s fair?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
’Cause another’s rosy are?
Be she fairer than the day,        5
Or the flowery meads in May—
  If she think not well of me,
  What care I how fair she be?
Shall my silly heart be pined
’Cause I see a woman kind?        10
Or a well disposèd nature
Joinèd with a lovely feature?
Be she meeker, kinder, than
Turtle-dove or pelican,
  If she be not so to me,        15
  What care I how kind she be?
Shall a woman’s virtues move
Me to perish for her love?
Or her well-deservings known
Make me quite forget my 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 bears a noble mind,
If not outward helps she find,
Thinks what with them he would do
Who without them dares her woo;        30
  And unless that mind I see,
  What care I how great she be?
Great, or good, or kind, or fair,
I will ne’er the more despair;
If she love me, this believe,        35
I will die ere she shall grieve;
If she slight me when I woo,
I can scorn and let her go;
  For if she be not for me,
  What care I for whom she be?        40
Note 1. Shall I wasting in despair.  An imitation of this poem attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh by Cayley in his Life, and retained by Dr. Hannah in his Courtly Poets, p. 82. begins:
  Shall I, like an hermit, dwell
On a rock or in a cell,
Calling home the smallest part
That is missing of my heart,
To bestow it, where I may
Meet a rival every day?
      If she undervalue me,
      What care I how fair she be?

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