Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
In the Forest of Arden
By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)
(From Pastorals, 1593)

FARRE in the Forrest of Arden,
There dwelt a Knight hight Cassimen,
    As bold as Isenbras:
Fell he was and eager bent
In battaile and in Turnament,        5
    As was the good Sr. Topas.
He had (as Antique stories tell)
A daughter cleped Dowsabell,
    A Maiden faire and free,
Who, cause she was her fathers heire,        10
Full well she was y-tought the leire
    Of mickle courtesie.
The Silke well could she twist and twine,
And make the fine Marchpine,
    And with the needle work.        15
And she could help the Priest to say
His Mattins on a Holy-day,
    And sing a Psalme in Kirk.
Her Frocke was of the frolique Green,
(Mought well become a Mayden Queen)        20
    Which seemely was to see:
Her Hood to it was neat and fine,
In colour like the Columbine,
    y-wrought full featuously.
This Maiden in a morne betime,
Went forth when May was in her prime,
    To get sweet Scettuall,
The Honysuckle, the Horelock,
The Lilly, and the Ladies-Smock,
    To dight her summer Hall.        30
And as she romed here, and there,
Y-picking of the bloomed brier,
    She chanced to espie
A Shepheard sitting on a bank,
Like Chanticleere—he crowed crank,        35
    And piped with merry glee.
He leerd his Sheep as he him list,
When he would whistle in his fist,
    To feed about him round,
Whilst he full many a Caroll sung,        40
That all the fields, and meadowes rung,
    And made the woods resound.
In favour this same Shepheard Swaine
Was like the Bedlam Tamerlaine,
    That kept proud Kings in awe,        45
But meek he was as meek mought be,
Yea like the gentle Abell, he
    Whom his lewd brother slew.
This Shepheard wore a freeze-gray Cloake,
The which was of the finest locke,        50
    That could be cut with Sheere:
His Aule and Lingell in a Thong,
His Tar-box by a broad belt hung,
    His Cap of Minivere.
His Mittens were of Bausons skin,
His Cockers were of Cordowin,
    His Breech of country blew:
All curle, and crisped were his Locks,
His brow more white than Albion Rocks:
    So like a Lover true.        60
And piping he did spend the day,
As merry as a Popinjay,
    Which lik’d faire Dowsabell,
That wod she ought, or wod she nought,
The Shepheard would not from her thought,        65
    In love she longing fell:
With that she tucked up her Frock,
(White as the Lilly was her Smock,)
    And drew the Shepheard nigh,
But then the Shepheard pip’d a good,        70
That all his Sheep forsook their food,
    To heare his melody.
Thy Sheep (quoth she) cannot be lean,
That have so faire a Shepheard Swain,
    That can his Pipe so well:        75
I but (quoth he) the Shepheard may,
If Piping thus he pine away,
    For love of Dowsabell.
Of love (fond boy) take thou no keep,
Look well (quoth she) unto thy Sheep;        80
    Lest they should chance to stray.
So had I done (quoth he) full well,
Had I not seen faire Dowsabell,
    Come forth to gather May.
I cannot stay (quoth she) till night,
And leave my Summer Hall undight,
    And all for love of men.
Yet are you, quoth he, too unkind,
If in your heart you cannot find,
    To love us now and then.        90
And I will be to thee as kind,
As Collin was to Rosalinde,
    Of courtesie the flower.
And I will be as true (quoth she)
As ever Lover yet mought be,        95
    Unto her Paramour.
With that the Maiden bent her knee,
Down by the Shepheard kneeled she,
    And sweetly she him kist.
But then the Shepheard whoop’d for joy,        100
(Quoth he) was never Shepheard boy,
    That ever was so blist.

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