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.
 
What Wight He Loved
By William Browne (c. 1590–c. 1645)
 
SHALL 1 I tell you whom I love?
  Harken then awhile to me;
And if such a woman move,
  As I now shall versify,
Be assured, ’tis she or none        5
That I love, and love alone.
 
Nature did her so much right
  As she scorns the help of art;
In as many virtues dight
  As e’er yet embraced a heart:        10
So much good so truly tried,
Some for less were deified.
 
Wit she hath without desire
  To make known how much she hath;
And her anger flames no higher        15
  Than may fitly sweeten wrath.
Full of pity as may be,
Though, perhaps, not so to me.
 
Reason masters every sense,
  And her virtues grace her birth,        20
Lovely as all excellence,
  Modest in her most of mirth
Likelihood enough to prove
Only worth could kindle love.
 
Such she is: and, if you know        25
  Such a one as I have sung,
Be she brown, or fair, or so
  That she be but somewhile young,
Be assured, ’tis she, or none
That I love, and love alone.        30
 
Note 1. From Britannia’s Pastorals, Bk. ii., song 2, lines 193–222. “That this charming song was rightly appreciated as it circulated in MS. among the poet’s friends is clear from allusions to it by John Olney in his verses prefixed to Browne’s Shepherd’s Pipe, 1614. It has been set to music by Dr. S. S. Wesley.” (Gordon Goodwin.) [back]
 
 
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