Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Extracts from Britannia’s Pastorals: A Metamorphosis
By William Browne (c. 1590–c. 1645)
 
Book I. Song 5.

AND as a lovely maiden, pure and chaste,
With naked ivory neck and gown unlaced,
Within her chamber, when the day is fled,
Makes poor her garments to enrich her bed:
First, puts she off her lily-silken gown,        5
That shrinks for sorrow as she lays it down;
And with her arms graceth a waistcoat fine.
Embracing her as it would ne’er untwine.
Her flaxen hair, ensnaring the beholders,
She next permits to wave about her shoulders,        10
And though she cast it back, the silken slips
Still forward steal, and hang upon her lips:
Whereat she sweetly angry, with her laces
Binds up the wanton locks in curious traces,
Whilst, twisting with her joints, each hair long lingers        15
As loth to be enchained but with her fingers.
Then on her head a dressing like a crown;
Her breasts all bare, her kirtle slipping down,
And all things off which rightly ever be
Called the foul-fair marks of our misery,        20
Except her last, which enviously doth seize her
Lest any eye partake with it in pleasure,
Prepares for sweetest rest, while silvans greet her,
And longingly the down-bed swells to meet her:
So by degrees his shape all brutish wild        25
Fell from him as loose skin from some young child
In lieu whereof a man-like shape appears,
And gallant youth scarce skilled in twenty years,
So fair, so fresh, so young, so admirable
In every part, that since I am not able        30
In words to shew his picture, gentle swains,
Recall the praises in my former strains;
And know if they have graced any limb,
I only lent it those, but stole ’t from him.
 
 
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