Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
V. Cautions and Complaints
Answer to Master Wither’s Song, “Shall I, Wasting in Despair”
Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
 
   [Wither’s Song, or “Sonnet,” appeared first in his “Fidelia” in 1615, and later with some changes in “Fair Virtue,” 1622. Jonson’s parody, here given, came out in a Collection of Verses, in 1620.]

SHALL I mine affections slack,
’Cause I see a woman’s Black?
Or myself, with care cast down,
’Cause I see a woman Brown?
Be She blacker than the night,        5
Or the blackest jet in sight!
  If She be not so to me,
  What care I, how Black She be?
 
Shall my foolish heart be burst,
’Cause I see a woman ’s curst?        10
Or a thwarting hoggish nature
Joinèd in as bad a feature?
Be She curst, or fiercer than
Brutish beast, or savage man!
  If She be not so to me,        15
  What care I, how Curst She be?
 
Shall a woman’s vices make
Me her vices quite forsake?
Or her faults to me make known,
Make me think that I have none?        20
Be She of the most accurst,
And deserve the name of worst!
  If She be not so to me,
  What care I, how Bad She be?
 
’Cause her fortunes seem too low,        25
Shall I therefore let her go?
He that bears an humble mind
And with riches can be kind.
Think how kind a heart he ’d have,
If he were some servile slave!        30
  And if that same mind I see,
  What care I, how Poor She be?
 
Poor, or Bad, or Curst, or Black,
I will ne’er the more be slack!
If she hate me (then believe!)        35
She shall die, ere I will grieve!
If She like me, when I woo;
I can like and love her too!
  If that She be fit for me!
  What care I, what others be?        40
 
 
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