Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
A Roundelay
By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)
Between Two Shepherds

TELL 1 me, thou skilful shepherd swain,
  Who’s yonder in the valley set?
O, it is she, whose sweets do stain
  The lily, rose, the violet!
Why doth the sun against his kind        5
  Stay his bright chariot in the skies?
He pauseth, almost stricken blind
  With gazing on her heavenly eyes.
Why do thy flocks forbear their food,
  Which sometime was their chief delight?        10
Because they need no other good
  That live in presence of her sight.
How come these flowers to flourish still,
  Not with’ring with sharp Winter’s breath?
She hath robb’d Nature of her skill,        15
  And comforts all things with her breath.
Why slide these brooks so slow away,
  As swift as the wild roe that were?
O, muse not, shepherd, that they stay,
  When they her heavenly voice do hear.        20
From whence come all these goodly swains,
  And lovely girls attired in green?
From gathering garlands on the plains
  To crown our fair the Shepherds’ Queen.
The sun that lights this world below,        25
  Flocks, flowers, and brooks will witness bear;
These nymphs and shepherds all do know
  That it is she is only fair.
Note 1. From Drayton’s Pastorals, the Ninth Eclogue. The roundelay is a dialogue between two shepherds, Motto and Perkin; the first speaking in the Roman letters and the second in Italics. In earlier editions the last line of the sixth stanza reads. To crown thy Syl.: Sylvia, in whose praise the song is made. [back]

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