Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Yea or Nay
By Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)
MADAM, 1 withouten many words
  Once I am sure you will or no;
And if you will, then leave your boards, 2
  And use your wit and show it so.
For with a beck you shall me call;        5
  And if of one that burns alway
You have pitie or ruth at all,
  Answer him fair with yea or nay.
If it be yea, I shall be fain;
  If it be nay, friends as before;        10
You shall another man obtain,
  And I mine own, and yours no more.
Note 1. This very well-known song of Wyat’s is from Tottel’s Miscellany, 1557. “Subjoined, in the same MS.,” says Nott (Harington MS., No. 1, p. 42), “is an answer, which, though it probably was not written by Wyat, yet as it was transcribed by him into his book, deserves to be preserved.” The answer reads:

  Of few words, Sir, you seem to be,
  And where I doubted what I would do
Your quick request hath caused me
  Quickly to tell you what you shall trust to.
For he that will be called with a beck,
  Makes hasty suit on light desire;
Is ever ready to the check
  And burneth in no wasting fire.
Therefore whether you be lief or loth,
  And whether it grieve you light or sore
I am at a point. I have made an oath,
  Content you with “Nay;” for you get no more.
Note 2. Then leave your boards: tackings to and fro. A vessel tacking is said to make boards. [back]

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