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Short poem

Isabella Whitney (ca. 1540-after 1580)

To her Sister Mistress A. B.

              1Because I to my brethern wrote
              2        and to my sisters two:
              3Good sister Anne, you this might wote,
              4        if so I should not do
              5To you, or ere I parted hence,
              6You vainly had bestowed expence.

              7Yet is it not for that I write,
              8        for nature did you bind
              9To do me good, and to requite
            10        hath nature me inclined:
            11Wherefore good sister take in gree
            12These simple lines that come from me.

            13Wherein I wish you Nestor's days,
            14        in happy health to rest:
            15With such success in all assays
            16        as those which God hath blest:
            17Your husband with your pretty boys,
            18God keep them free from all annoys.

            19And grant if that my luck it be
            20        to linger here so long
            21Till they be men, that I may see
            22        for learning them so strong
            23That they may march amongst the best
            24Of them which learning have possest.

            25By that time will my aged years
            26        perhaps a staff require:
            27And quakingly as still in fears
            28        my limbs draw to the fire:
            29Yet joy I shall them so to see,
            30If any joy in age there be.

            31Good sister so I you commend
            32        to him that made us all:
            33I know you huswifery intend,
            34        though I to writing fall:
            35Wherefore no lenger shall you stay
            36From business that profit may.

            37Had I a husband, or a house,
            38        and all that longs thereto,
            39My self could frame about to rouse,
            40        as other women do:
            41But till some household cares me tie,
            42My books and pen I will apply.

        Your louing Sister. IS. W.


3] wote: know.

11] in gree: contentedly.

13] Nestor: aged king of Pylos who fought among the Greeks with distinction in the Trojan war.

15] assays: ventures.

18] annoys: evils.

22] learning: teaching.

33] huswifery: housekeeping.

35] lenger: longer.

38] longs: belongs.

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: Isabella Whitney, A Sweet Nosgay, or Pleasant Posye: contayning a hundred and ten phylosophicall flowers (London: Richard Jones, 1573): d1v-d2r.
First publication date: 1573
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/9/1

Rhyme: ababcc

Other poems by Isabella Whitney