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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Sir Walter Ralegh

FROM  R. S.'s  Phoenix Nest,  1593    

A Description of Love

Now what is love?  I pray thee, tell.
It is that fountain and that well
Where pleasure and repentance dwell.
It is perhaps the sauncing bell
That tolls all into heaven or hell:
And this is love, as I hear tell.

Yet what is love?  I pray thee say.
It is a work on holy-day;
It is December matched with May;
When lusty bloods, in fresh array,
Hear ten months after of the play:
And this is love, as I hear say.

Yet what is love?  I pray thee sain.
It is a sunshine mixed with rain;
It is a tooth-ache, or like pain;
It is a game where none hath gain;
The lass saith no, and would full fain:
And this is love, as I hear sain.

Yet what is love?  I pray thee say.
It is a yea, it is a nay,
A pretty kind of sporting fray;
It is a thing will soon away;
Then take the vantage while you may:
And this is love, as I hear say.

Yet what is love, I pray thee show.
A thing that creeps, it cannot go;
A prize that passeth to and fro;
A thing for one, a thing for mo;
And he that proves must find it so:
And this is love, sweet friend, I trow.

Poetry of the English Renaissance 1509-1660.
J. William Hebel and Hoyt H. Hudson, Eds.
New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1941. 135.

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London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
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