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Go tell the Court it glows

And shines like rotten wood;
Go tell the Church it shows
Men's good, and doth no good;

If Church and Court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates they live

Acting by others' actions,
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by their factions ;

If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition

That rule affairs of state,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate :

And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most

They beg for more by spending,
Who in their greatest cost
Seek nothing but commending :

And if they make reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

Tell zeal it lacks devotion ;

Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust;

And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;

Tell honour how it alters ;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how she falters;

And as they shall reply,
Give each of them the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles

In fickle points of niceness; Tell wisdom she entangles Herself in over-wiseness ;

And if they do reply,

Straight give them both the lie. Tell physic of her boldness ;

Tell skill it is pretension ;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention :

And as they yield reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness ;

Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay :

And if they dare reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,

But vary by esteeming ;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming :

If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it's fled the city;

Tell how the country erreth ;
Tell, manhood shakes off pity;
Tell, virtue least preferreth:

And if they do reply
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I

Commanded thee, done blabbing,
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less then stabbing,

Yet stab at thee who will,
No stab the soul can kill.



About the authorship of this beautiful address to conjugal love, there is also much uncertainty. Bishop Percy calls it a "Translation from the Antient British,” probably to veil the real writer. We find it included among Gilbert Cooper's poems, diamond amongst pebbles; he never could have written it. It has been claimed for Steevens, who did the world good service as one of the earliest restorers of Shakespeare's text; but who is almost as famous for his bitter and cynical temper, as for his acuteness as a verbal critic. Could this charming love-song, true in its tenderness as the gushing notes of a bird to his sitting mate, have been poured forth by a man whom the whole world agreed in hating? After all, we have no need to meddle with this vexed question. Let us be content to accept thankfully one of the very few purely English ballads which contradict the reproach of our Scottish and Irish neighbours, when they tell us that our love-songs are of the head, not of the heart. This poem, at least, may vie with those of Gerald Griffin in the high and rare merit of conveying the noblest sentiments in the simplest language.

Away ! let nought to love displeasing,

My Winifreda, move your care ;
Let nought delay the heavenly blessing,

Nor squeamish pride, nor gloomy fear.

What though no grant of royal donors

With pompous titles grace our blood ?
We'll shine in more substantial honours,

And to be noble we'll be good.

Our name, while virtue thus we tender,

Shall sweetly sound where'er ’tis spoke;
And all the great ones, they shall wonder

How they respect such little folk.

What though from fortune's lavish bounty

No mighty treasures we possess ?
We'll find within our pittance plenty,

And be content without excess.

Still shall each kind returning season

Sufficient for our wishes give;

For we will live a life of reason,

And that's the only life to live.

Through youth to age in love excelling,

We'll hand in hand together tread;
Sweet-smiling Peace shall crown our dwelling,

And babes, sweet-smiling babes, our bed.

How should I love the pretty creatures,

While round my knees they fondly clung;
To see them look their mother's features,

To hear them lisp their mother's tongue,

And when with envy, time transported,

Shall think to rob us of our joys,
You'll in your girls again be courted,

And I'll go wooing in my boys.

Surely this is the sort of poetry that ought to be popular—to be sung in our concert-rooms, and set to such airs as should be played on barrel-organs through our streets, suggesting the words and the sentiments as soon as the first notes of the melody make themselves heard under the window.

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