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.
 
Melancholy
By John Fletcher (1579–1625)
 
HENCE, 1 all you vain delights,
  As short as are the nights
  Wherein you spend your folly!
There’s naught in this life sweet,
If man were wise to see’t,        5
  But only melancholy,
  O sweetest melancholy!
 
Welcome folded arms and fixèd eyes,
A sigh that piercing mortifies,
A look that’s fasten’d to the ground,        10
A tongue chain’d up without a sound!
 
Fountain-heads, and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves!
Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
Are warmly housed, save bats and owls!        15
  A midnight bell, a parting groan—
  These are the sounds we feed upon,
Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley;
Nothing’s so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.
 
Note 1. From The Nice Valour, or the Passionate Madman, 1647. It is supposed that this song suggested Milton’s Il Penseroso. Dr. William Strode, a canon of Christ Church, wrote a reply, published in Wit Restored, 1658. [back]
 
 
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