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.
 
If Women Could Be Fair and Yet Not Fond
By Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550–1604)
 
IF 1 women could be fair and yet not fond,
  Or that their love were firm, not fickle still,
I would not marvel that they make men bond
  By service long to purchase their good will;
But when I see how frail those creatures are,        5
I laugh that men forget themselves so far.
 
To mark the choice they make, and how they change,
  How oft from Phœbus they do flee to Pan;
Unsettled still, like haggards wild they range,
  These gentle birds that fly from man to man;        10
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist,
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list?
 
Yet for our sport we fawn and flatter both,
  To pass the time when nothing else can please,
And train them to our lure with subtle oath,        15
  Till, weary of our wiles, ourselves we ease;
And then we say when we their fancy try,
To play with fools, O what a fool was I!
 
Note 1. From the text of Dr. Grosart in his Fuller Worthies’ Miscellanies, IV. In Rawl. MS. 85, fol. 16, the poem is ascribed to Oxford. [back]
 
 
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