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.
A Good Throw for Three Maidenheads
By Martin Parker (d. 1656?)
(1631. From A Pepysian Garland, 1922)

 Some say that mayden-heads are of high price,
But here are three maids that have lost theirs at dice.

THREE maids did make a meeting,
With one young man of late,
Where they had such a greeting,
As passes Peg and Kate.
They talk of many matters,        5
Not fitting to be told;
Also they drank strong waters,
To heat their stomachs cold.
    and when they had,
    drunk with the Lad,        10
Until they were merry all:
    between them three,
    they did agree,
Into discourse to fall.
Concerning husbands getting,        15
The question did arise,
And each of them their sitting,
Some reason did devise.
One was a milkmaid bonny,
The other I’ll not name,        20
But she did get much money,
By selling of the same,
    her name is Jone,
    as is well known,
I hope ’tis no offence:        25
    to tell what they,
    did on that day,
Before they went from thence.
They all did love this young man
And each for him did strive,        30
It seems he was a strong man,
That could his work contrive.
Now which of them should have him,
They neither of them knew,
But each of them did crave him,        35
As her own proper due.
    now meeting,
    and greeting,
As maids and young men use,
    with them he drank,        40
    his money was frank,
Indeed he could not choose.
And either of them telling,
Her mind in full to him,
Meanwhile the rest were filling,        45
Their cups up to ye brim.
Because in either of them,
It seems he had a share,
Unless he meant to scoff them,
He now must choose his ware.        50
    and therefore they,
    without delay,
Being on the merry pin:
    with good advice,
    did throw the dice,        55
Who should the young man win.
The young man was contented,
And so the dice were brought.
The maids that this invented,
Their lessons were well taught:        60
For the young man all lusted,
And by this fine device,
They severally all trusted,
To win him by the dice.
    but hark now,        65
    and mark now,
The manner of their play:
    in their behalf,
    I know you’ll laugh,
Before you go away.        70
IF any of the lasses,
Do overthrow the rest,
On her the verdict passes,
None should with her contest,
But she should have her lover,        75
Clean from the other twain,
If even not above her,
Then they must throw again.
    but of he,
    all them, three,        80
Did win by throwing most:
    their mayden-heads all,
    to him must fall,
Without any pain or cost.
To this they all replied,        85
They jointly were agreed,
What words had testifyed,
Should be perform’d indeed.
The first maid threw, tray cater ace,
Which is in all but eight,        90
She hoped from all the maids in place,
To win the lad by right,
    The second I think,
    threw tray deuce cinque,
There’s ten (quoth she) for me.        95
    the first was quell’d,
    for this excel’d,
Full sorely vext was she.
The third with courage lusty,
Did take the dice in hand,        100
Now dice if you be trusty,
Quoth she, this cast shall stand,
For I resolve for better for worse
As fortune shall dispose,
That either now I’ll win the horse        105
Or else the Saddle lose.
    she took them,
    and she shook them,
And threw without fear or wit,
    tray cater sice,        110
    gramercy dice,
Quoth she, for that is it.
She thought herself most certain
The young man now to have,
But false deluding fortune,        115
No such great favour gave.
The young man took the dice up,
Quoth he now have at all,
He threw sincke cater sice up,
Which made her courage fall,        120
    who threw the last,
    for ’twas surpast,
How now my girls, quoth he,
    you must resign,
    for they are mine,        125
Your maiden-heads to me.
For I have fairly won them,
As you yourselves can tell,
The lots were cast upon them,
Which you all liked well.        130
The maidens all confessed,
That what he said was true,
And that they were distressed,
Should he exact his due.
    we hope sir,        135
    some scope sir,
You unto us will give.
    if that we pay,
    what’s lost by play,
’Twere pity we should live.        140
Quoth he, I’ll have them all three,
For they by right are mine,
Or else in troth, they shall be,
All painted on my sign.
The sign of the one maiden-head,        145
Hath oftentimes bin seen,
But I’ll have three caus ’t shall be said
The like hath never been.
    now whether this lad,
    his winnings had,        150
I cannot nor will not say:
    but likely ’tis,
    he would not miss,
What was won by fair play.
They thought they had been private        155
Where none had heard their doing
But one did so contrive it,
That he heard all this wooing.
Thought he I have heard many hold,
Their maiden-heads at high price,        160
But now hereafter it may be told,
How three were won at dice.
    this man ere long,
    did cause this song,
To be made on the same,        165
    that maidens fair,
    might have a care,
And play at no such game.

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