Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Pedlar’s Song
FINE 1 knacks for ladies! cheap, choice, brave and new,
  Good pennyworths,—but money cannot move:
I keep a fair but for the Fair to view,—
  A beggar may be liberal of love.
Though all my wares be trash, the heart is true,        5
                        The heart is true.
Great gifts are guiles and look for gifts again;
  My trifles come as treasures from my mind:
It is a precious jewel to be plain;
  Sometimes in shell the orient’st pearls we find:—        10
Of others take a sheaf, of me a grain!
                        Of me a grain!
Within this pack pins, points, laces, and gloves,
  And divers toys fitting a country fair,
But my heart, wherein duty serves and loves,        15
  Turtles and twins, court’s brood, a heavenly pair—
Happy the heart that thinks of no removes!
                        Of no removes!
Note 1. From John Dowland’s Second Book of Songs or Airs, 1600. “Dowland … had the distinction,” says Mr. Erskine (Study of The Elizabethan Lyric, ed. 1905, pp. 229–30), “of presenting here one of the famous pedlar-songs of Elizabethan poetry…. The great antiquity of mercers’ songs in England has already been noticed. (Ibid. Chap, ii.) The character of the roving pedlar, especially if he were wittily impudent, seems to have appealed strongly to the Elizabethan imagination. In its normal presentation, Shakespeare’s Autolycus (see below Nos. 418 and 419) sums up the type. Dowland’s pedlar, however, is idealized into a second-hand philosopher; every line of his speech, in phrase and thought, is a burlesque echo of the moral verses in the miscellanies.” [back]

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