by Robert Herrick

WHITHER, mad maiden, wilt thou roam?
Far safer 'twere to stay at home,
Where thou mayst sit and piping please
The poor and private cottages,
Since cotes and hamlets best agree
With this thy meaner minstrelsy.
There with the reed thou mayst express
The shepherd's fleecy happiness,
And with thy eclogues intermix
Some smooth and harmless bucolics.
There on a hillock thou mayst sing
Unto a handsome shepherdling,
Or to a girl (that keeps the neat)
With breath more sweet than violet.
There, there, perhaps, such lines as these
May take the simple villages ;
But for the court, the country wit
Is despicable unto it.
Stay, then, at home, and do not go
Or fly abroad to seek for woe.
Contempts in courts and cities dwell,
No critic haunts the poor man's cell,
Where thou mayst hear thine own lines read
By no one tongue there censured.
That man's unwise will search for ill,
And may prevent it, sitting still.
Poussin. The Inspiration of the Poet, 1636-38. Detail.
Poussin: The Inspiration of the Poet,
1636-38. Detail. From CGFA

Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol I.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 4.

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