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.
Clod’s Carroll
Roxburghe Ballads
(Anonymous. From The Roxburghe Ballads, Vol. I. 1874)

MAN.  NOW in the Garden are we well met,
  To crave our promise, for promise is a debt.
WOMAN.  Come, sit thee down all by my side, and when that thou art set, say what thou wilt unto me.
MAN.  Show me unfeignedly, and tell me thy mind,
  For one may have a young wench that is not overkind.        5
WOMAN.  Seek all the world for such a one, then hardly shall you find a Love of such perfection.
MAN.  This single life is wearisome: fain would I marry,
  But fear of ill choosing makes me to tarry:
  Some says that flesh is flexible, and quickly it will vary.
WOMAN.  It’s very true,—God mend them.        10
MAN.  Why speak’st thou ill of women, sith thou thyself art one?
WOMAN.  Would all the rest were constant save I myself alone!
MAN.  Faith, good or bad, or howsoe’re, I cannot live alone, but needs I must be married.
WOMAN.  To marry with a young wench,—she’ll make thee poor with pride:
  To marry with one of middle age,—perhaps she hath been tried:        15
  To marry with an old one,—to freeze by fire side: both old and young are faulty.
MAN.  I’ll marry with a young wench of beauty and of wit.
WOMAN.  It is better tame a young Colt without a curbing bit.
MAN.  But she will throw her rider down.
WOMAN.  I, true, he cannot sit, when Fillies fall a wighing.        20
MAN.  I’ll marry one of middle age, for she will love me well.
WOMAN.  But if her middle much be used, by heaven and by hell!
  Thou shalt find more griefs than thousand tongues can tell: Ah, silly man, God help thee!
MAN.  I’ll marry with an old wench that knows not good from bad.
WOMAN.  But once within a fortnight she’ll make her husband mad.        25
MAN.  Beshrew thee for thy counsel, for thou hast made me sad; but needs I must be married.
WOMAN.  To marry with a young wench me thinks it were a bliss:
  To marry one of middle age it were not much amiss:
  I’d marry one of old age, and match where money is; there’s none are bad in choosing.
MAN.  Then thou, for all thy saying, commendst the single life.        30
WOMAN.  I, freedom is a popish banishment of strife.
MAN.  Hold thy tongue, fond woman, for I must have a wife.
WOMAN.  A Cuckold in reversion.
  When you are once married, all one whole year,
  Tell me of your fortune, and meet with me here;        35
  To think upon my counsel thou wilt shed many a tear; till which time I will leave thee.
MAN.  Were I but assured, and of a Beggar’s lot,
  Still to live in misery and never worth a groat,
  To have my head well furnished as any horned Goat: for all this would I marry.
  Farewell, you lusty Bachelors, to marriage I am bent;        40
  When I have tried what marriage is, I’ll tell you the event,
  And tell the cause, if cause there be, wherein I do repent that ever I did marry.
WOMAN.  GOOD-MORROW to thee, new-married man, how dost thou fare?
MAN.  As one quite marr’d with marriage, consumed and killed with care:
  Would I had ta’en thy counsel.        45
WOMAN.    But thou wouldst not beware.
MAN.      Alas! it was my fortune.
WOMAN.  What grief doth most oppress thee may I request to know?
MAN.  That I have got a wanton.
WOMAN.    But is she not a shrow?        50
MAN.  She’s anything that evil is, but I must not say so.
WOMAN.      For fear that I should flout thee.
MAN.  Indeed, to mock at misery would add unto my grief.
WOMAN.  But I will not torment thee, but rather lend relief:
  And therefore in thy marriage tell me what woes are chief; good counsel yet may cure thee.        55
WOMAN.  Is not thy housewife testy, too churlish and too sour?
MAN.  The devil is not so waspish,—she’s never pleased an hour.
WOMAN.  Canst thou not tame a devil? lies not it in thy power?
MAN.      Alas! I cannot conjure.
WOMAN.  What! goeth she not a gossiping, to spend away thy store?        60
MAN.  Do what I can, I promise you, she’s ever out of door;
  That were I ne’er so thrifty, yet she would make me poor; woe’s me! I cannot mend it.
WOMAN.  How goeth she in apparel? delights she not in pride?
MAN.  No more than birds do bushes, or harts the river side,—
  Witness to that, her looking-glass, where she hath stood in pride a whole fore-noon together.        65
WOMAN.  How thinkst thou? was she honest, and loyal to thy bed?
MAN.  I think her legs do fall away, for springtime keeping head;
  And were not horns invisible, I warrant you I were sped with broad-browed Panthers?
WOMAN.  Thy grief is past recovery; no salute will help but this—
  To take thy fortune patiently, and brook her what she is,        70
  Yet many things amended are that have been long amiss, and so in time may she be.
MAN.  I cannot stay here longer, my wife, or this, doth stay;
  And he that’s bound as I am bound, perforce must needs obey.
WOMAN.  Then farewell to thee, new-married man, since you will needs away; I can but grieve thy fortune.
MAN.  All you that be at liberty and would be void of strife,—        75
  I speak it on experience,—ne’er venture on a wife;
  For if you match, you will be matched to such a weary life, that you will all repent you.

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