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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

John Dryden. 1631–1700

400. Ah, how sweet it is to love!

AH, how sweet it is to love! 
  Ah, how gay is young Desire! 
And what pleasing pains we prove 
  When we first approach Love’s fire! 
Pains of love be sweeter far         5
Than all other pleasures are. 
Sighs which are from lovers blown 
  Do but gently heave the heart: 
Ev’n the tears they shed alone 
  Cure, like trickling balm, their smart:  10
Lovers, when they lose their breath, 
Bleed away in easy death. 
Love and Time with reverence use, 
  Treat them like a parting friend; 
Nor the golden gifts refuse  15
  Which in youth sincere they send: 
For each year their price is more, 
And they less simple than before. 
Love, like spring-tides full and high, 
  Swells in every youthful vein;  20
But each tide does less supply, 
  Till they quite shrink in again: 
If a flow in age appear, 
‘Tis but rain, and runs not clear.