Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
When Daffodils Begin to Peer
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “The Winter’s Tale,” Act IV. Scene 2

WHEN 1 daffodils begin to peer,
  With heigh! the doxy 2 over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
  For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.
 
The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,        5
  With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging 3 tooth on edge;
  For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
 
The lark that tirra-lirra chants,
  With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,        10
Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
  While we lie tumbling in the hay.
 
Note 1. When daffodils begin to peer.  Autolycus’ song in The Winter’s Tale, 1611; act iv. sc. 3. In the text of the play an interjected sentence and two more stanzas follow the three verses here given:
  I have served Prince Florizel and in my time wore three-pile [velvet]; but now I am out of service:    
  But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
  The pale moon shines by night:
And when I wander here and there,
  I then do most go right.
  
If tinkers may have leave to live,
  And bear the sow-skin budget,
Then my account I well may give,
  And in the stocks avouch it.
Note 2. Doxy: a loose wench. [back]
Note 3. pugging: thieving, from the old word “puggard,” a thief. [back]
 
 
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