William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907. What Is Love?
By John Fletcher (15791625)
T ELL 1 me, dearest, what is love?
Tis a lightning from above;
Tis an arrow, tis a fire,
Tis a boy they call Desire.
Tis a grave, 5
Gapes to have
Those poor fools that long to prove.
Tell me more, are women true?
Yes, some are, and some as you.
Some are willing, some are strange, 10
Since you men first taught to change.
And till troth
Be in both,
All shall love, to love anew.
Tell me more yet, can they grieve? 15
Yes, and sicken sore, but live,
And be wise, and delay,
When you men are wise as they.
Then I see,
Faith will be, 20 Never till they both believe.
From Note 1. The Captain, 1647, act ii. sc. 2. This lyrical dialogue, with its refrain for both voices, has been adapted from the less beautiful form in act iii., of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, 1613. [ back]