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Short poem

Sir Walter Ralegh (ca. 1552-1618)

The Nymph's Reply

              1If all the world and love were young,
              2And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
              3These pretty pleasures might me move
              4To live with thee and be thy love.

              5Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
              6When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
              7And Philomel becometh dumb;
              8The rest complains of cares to come.

              9The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
            10To wayward winter reckoning yields;
            11A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
            12Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

            13Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
            14Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
            15Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,--
            16In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

            17Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
            18The coral clasps and amber studs,
            19All these in me no means can move
            20To come to thee and be thy love.

            21But could youth last and love still breed,
            22Had joys no date nor age no need,
            23Then these delights my mind might move
            24To live with thee and be thy love.


1] First published anonymously in England's Helicon, 1600, and ascribed to Ralegh on the authority of Izaac Walton, in the Compleat Angler, 1653. The poem replies to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love." See also Donne's The Bait.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Englands Helicon [Poems collected and edited by John Bodenham or L. N.] (J. R. for J. Flasket, 1600). STC 3192.
First publication date: 1600
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger
RP edition: 3RP 1.150.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10

Rhyme: aabb

Other poems by Sir Walter Ralegh