Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXVIII. Loneliness
A Shepherd Boy’s Song
By William Browne (c. 1590–c. 1645)
 
IT is enough that I in silence sit,
And bend my skill to learne your layes aright;
Nor strive with you in ready straines of wit,
Nor move my hearers with so true delight.
But if for heavy plaints and notes of woe        5
            Your eares are prest;
No shepherd lives that can my pipe out-goe
            In such unrest.
    I have not knowne so many yeares
            As chances wrong,        10
    Nor have they knowne more floods of teares
            From one so yong.
Fain would I tune to please as others doe,
Wert not for faining song and numbers too.
Then (since not fitting now are songs of mone)        15
Sing, mirthfull swaines, but let me sigh alone.
 
The nymphs that float upon these watry plaines
Have oft been drawne to listen to my song,
And sirens left to tune dissembling straines
In true bewailing of my sorrowes long.        20
Upon the waves of late a silver swan
            By me did ride,
And thrilled with my woes forthwith began
            To sing, and dyde.
Yet where they should, they cannot move.        25
            O haplesse verse!
That fitter, than to win a love,
            Art for a herse.
Hence-forward silent be; and ye my cares
Be knowne but to myselfe; or who despaires,        30
Since pittie now lies turned to a stone.
Sing mirthfull swaines; but let me sigh alone.
 
 
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