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.
 
The Blossom
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Act IV. Scene 3

ON 1 a day—alack the day!—
Love, whose month was ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair 2
Playing in the wanton air:
Through the velvet leaves the wind,        5
All unseen, ’gan passage find; 3
That the lover, sick to death,
Wished himself the heaven’s breath.
“Air,” quoth he, “thy cheeks may blow;
Air, would I might triumph so!        10
But, alas, my hand is sworn
Ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn:
Vow, alack, for youth unmeet;
Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.
Do not call it sin in me,        15
That I am forsworn for thee;
Thou for whom Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiope were;
And deny himself for Jove,
Turning mortal for thy love.”        20
 
Note 1. This sonnet of Dumain’s was also published in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599, and England’s Helicon, 1600. [back]
Note 2. Passing fair: Fairholt calls attention to the use of this phrase in Lyly’s Sapho and Phao, 1584; “I fear me, fair be a word too foul for a face so passing fair,” act ii. sc. 1. [back]
Note 3. ’Gan passage find: in Dr. Furness’ Variorum ed. of Shakespeare the reading is “can passage find.” The early English poets used can for ’gan or began. “Gan,” says Dr. Furness, “is surely out of place in the present line.” (Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 171.) [back]
 
 
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