1 A Gentle Swain yfed in Kentish Mead,[*]
[*] Line 1. YFED. a, and y (pronounc'd as e) before Words, and en, et and ie, after, are for softness of sound.
2 The gentlest Swain that ever
3 Flock did feed.
4 Soft he beside the Stream of
5 EDEN lay,
6 And graz'd abie the Banks of fair MEDWAY. [Page 12]
7 Up with the Morn, as lith as Lark, he'd rise;
8 And Cubbin he, so said him Shepherd Boys.
9 So as he sate, with LASS or toys the YOUTH;
10 Or soft he sooth's, for soft can Cubbin sooth.
11 There sweetly oped each Flower the little Lip,
12 Fresh Honey-dew and Evening Air to sip.
13 Was, when his CADE he'd kiss, and pretty play:[*]
[*] Cade. Or, Cade-Lamb.
14 Or bath in Brook, then roll on tender Lea. [*]
[*] Lea. Or, Green.
15 Sooth! would too RHIMES go make as loose he lay,
16 (Though God-wot, to make RHIMES small Wit had he.)
17 And wont out-scrawl and print 'em on the Sand,
18 All as he lay along with Crook in Hand.
19 Poor Pen, you'll say: — Ay and poor Poet too!
20 But 'lack, must do what Heaven will have Us do.
21 Yet happy he, in time, found means to mark
22 His witless Tattle on a MAPLE's BARK.
23 But ah, how should he, poor Boy, 'ere find out,
24 Lines near enough to deck his TREE about.
25 Forc'd was he Swains o'rehear behind some balk,
26 Then on his TREE go print the tender Talk.
27 Late he abie a Place of Pleasure lay,
28 All fairly deckt in Sweets of fairest MAY.
29 Where silkie Thighs in Dew Grass-hoppers bath'd;
30 And merry cherruping, so rosie breath'd.
31 Ye Surrey Swains! and Surrey Swains have bliss;
32 I dare Ye show so soft a SHADE as this!
33 Atween the dewie Leaves as Air was blown,
34 The dewie Leaves yquivered every one.
35 The why he came here was all for two Maids,
36 He thought, were chatting nigh, of Love and Lads.
37 He came the one to warn, that Youngling-breast
38 The less did know of Love, did love the less.
39 Pity'd her the soft Swain: to warn he strove,
40 Lest the young HEART might hap to fall in love.
41 Foreby him sate these Maids in loose Array,
42 As fair and fresh as Summer Eve might see.
43 Sweet gay-green Flowers, so pretty put anear,
44 The Pink and Pancet pretty put anear.
45 Soflin and Paplet they; (ah dainty THEY!)
46 That ripe as Rose, this a soft-aged MEY. [*][Page 15]
[*] Line 12. A soft-aged MEY. or MAI; the D left out; is here used for one younger than we commonly mean by the Word MAID, suppose a Lass of 13 or 14 Years old. Tho' Chaucer uses it indifferently, as it has not the vulgarness of Maid, and is of a sound particularly sweet and simple.
47 Both lith as Youngling Roe, all-tender too
48 As Ladybird that lives on twinkling Dew.
49 Paplet, a CHRISTIAN's and a JEWES's Child,[*]
[*] Line 3. Paplet, a Christian's, &c. She would have discover'd their Marriage, and occasion'd the JEWES's Death by their Laws.
50 Scarce five Year old, was laid, to starve in Field;
51 For that the BABE' they could no longer hide:
52 But all by hap an anciant SIRE it spy'd;
53 Just starving; for the tender Teeth been broak,
54 As twould crack Nutt: It smiled when up he took
55 Oh sweet my Father reach that bough of HIPS!
56 What must I do, ah how I've scratch'd my Lips!
57 He tookt to's Cave; and pull'd the Thorns all out
58 Her pretty Feet; they bled with walk about.
59 There brought her up with Florey fresh his Son,
60 Who hunts wild Beasts, 'tis what they live epon. [Page 16]
61 Now sick if Sire or Son, she moans him meet,
62 Soft tend's, with cheary Chat, and soothing sweet
63 These gentle HEARTS small thought were Cubbin lay;
64 In sooth some halfendeal undeckt they be.
65 Honey-lip Gales soft breathed on their Hair,
66 Waved their Cloaths, and did their Bosoms bare
67 And well Iwis, as bare their bosoms, all[*]
[*] Line 7. And well Iwis, &c. The Words, WIS, WEET, and WEEN, all signify to think or imagin.
68 The Flowerets out that decked 'em did fall.
69 A Willow on the bank upheld their Heads,
70 (Oh happy Tree, to hold such lovely Maids!)
71 A soothing shade the rosie Sweetbreer gave;
72 Where sang the Bird that sings so soft at Eve. [*]
[*] i. e. The Nightingale.
73 Believe Me now, thus show'd they; by my fay
74 As lovely show'd, as Lilly on the Lea!
75 But sure that Paplet was the tend'rest Lass!
76 Well ween I Cubbin lay at little Ease.
77 So soft she seem'd! By Heav'n seem'd more
78 than soft!
79 Her Lip to touch he wish'd him, O how oft!
80 Now soothly Paplet was the tend'rest Mey!
81 Ah God! I small ween'd could so tender be!
82 Some-deal her Paps been pufft, that sooth might
84 The LITTLE LIFE now just of Love gan dream?
85 Now say me, Shepherds, who could help ha'
87 To save so sweet a HEART from pain of Love?
88 Love is a gentle pain, a pretty pain:
89 He came to keep from loving Soltie's Swain. [Page 18]
90 Soflin was fair as Morning DROP is fair,
91 And Paplet tender as the Evening Air.
92 When chatted they, so sweet their chatting were!
93 Oh I could hear, methought, for ever hear!
94 On FELLOW first, then TREE, they pretty loll,
95 Quiver their little Lips, their Eyen roll.
96 Sooth, ever and anon, as Soflin spoak,
97 Paplet in extasie would hide her LOOK.
98 Then asken more; yet shamed to asken more,
99 (Of MEN and LOVE) but long'd to know so sore.
100 Sometimes she'd fling her self epon the Grass:
101 Then up, and catch in Arms her Fellow-lass.
102 Why may'nt we Men, yquoth the youngling MEY,
103 And why may'nt we grasp them? Us graspen they
104 So pleased she was, and eager still to know,
105 In sooth so pleased, she knew not what to do.
106 But ill I say how sweet the Lasses sate,
107 Oh that you'd seen 'em,, I'd give any what!
108 This sooth I say (for sooth the Shepherds say)
109 Soft simpering thus said the YOUNGLING MEY.
110 The meaning of the MEY no whit I ween.
111 I'm sure, when near I came, just thus she sain.
112 NOW much I marl: 'Tis pretty; if tell Truth!
113 But say; Ha, Ha! Be HE so soft in sooth?
114 My gentle MEY, he is of gentlest mood.
115 Oh that he were my BROTHER! sure I would
116 Taken his Hand and tender lead him in,
117 Whenso he to the distant Field had been. [Page 20]
118 There pretty stroak his Hand, Ne have it said
119 See Soflin there, O see! A fawning Maid!
120 In his soft Bosom I my Hand would slip,
121 And hang epon the sweetness of his Lip.
122 Don't, Soflin, don't! how can'st talk so? Lips sweet;
123 How meanest sweet? How doen know be sweet?
124 All as a-green I walk with Collikin,
125 The lovely'st Lad that ever walk'd a-green.
126 If be I'm fray'd by Flood, by Boar or Bull,
127 He sooth's me soft, and calls me softest Soul.
128 Be it not pretty? b'lieve me, Pap, he doth!
129 And holds me 'neath his lilly Arm now sooth!
130 And sweet the Swain my Hand in his will nip,
131 Then kiss me with the kisses of his Lip. [Page 21]
132 So save me, SWEET, as truth I tell, when say
133 (Why tarest the Flow'rs so fierce, my pretty MEY?)
134 But hear me, CHICK! I seemen oft be fray,[*]
[*] fray. Or, affraid.
135 When I be not: But MAIDS should seem they say.
136 And so; why but — and pretty'st be't then Maid,
137 Be lip'd when frayed art? I'll be afraid!
138 Prettier? Oh prettier, CHILD, than may be thought,
139 You mayn't hug Men. if be you fearen nought:
140 But sure, so sweet it is, so hug in Arms!
141 Skuttle to DEAR, and have him hide from harms!
142 No more, but then? Yet kind be Swains, you said;
143 How kind? Mayn't kiss, Would kissing kill 'em, Maid?
144 But soft! meseem'd — oh I'd have heard for nought
145 Our simple Chat, for ours is simple Chat!
146 Set still SWEET! Wind might wag: Or LEVERIT rush,
147 With Cock-up Ears: don't go! or Bird from bush.
148 That Cubbinet I fear, for whom the MEYS
149 Late joyn'd, and bought a PIPEIT; all I guess
150 To busy him, and keep from kissing so.
151 The Swain that whispers us in Ear, you know,
152 That he can sing, then snatches a quick kiss;
153 Sooth, as the Mey suspecteth nought amiss.
154 Now the poor HEART's so pleased with his Pipe!
155 Fore GREAT ONES he can't hold, but lay'th to's lip.
156 I know the Swain, a tender Swain is he!
157 Fear him not Paplet, fear him not SWEET MEY.
158 I know the Swain, Who sooths so soft as he!
159 Believe me Lass, he'll never harm SWEET MEY.
160 Oh, but he often skulks a-hind a balk,
161 To hear the harmless Shepherdess in talk.
162 Then tells the Chat to SPARKS at the great-Town,
163 Who maken Mock at Speech of simple Clown.
164 Ne strange, I trow; for say me. SWEET, is't fit[*]
[*] Ne. Or, Nor.
165 Our weetless Tittletattle weren writ?
166 Unkindly Cubbinet! untoward boy!
167 Else, by my fay! he is a GENTLE BOY.
168 Sooth is he, but to kissing he's so given!
169 He'll kiss till he's odd, and then kiss to come even.
170 He'll kiss at the Hedge, and he'll kiss at the Gate;
171 He'll kiss if the chattering Magpie but prate!
172 But how must do if Swain should ere kiss me?
173 He'll put my Arms around him, didst not say:[Page 24]
174 Oh! — if to put my hands a-hind he goes:
175 May strive pull 'way, and that will pull him close!
176 Be sure look tender, when to lip he go:
177 But, sooth if say, Thou canst not help look so.
178 That dainty dimple in thy little Cheek,
179 So soft thee show's, so modest, and so meek!
180 Worst is, if ever YOUNGLING cast to lay
181 My hand in's bosom, 'twill so pretty be,
182 Not I know how, O I shan't help the fault,
183 But blush, poor son! how Soflie must I not?
184 So Paplet, softest Paplet, as she said,
185 Her sweet-dew Lips on Soflies Bosom laid.
186 No help, I ween; what will be, best let be.
187 But bad in thee, my CHICK, more bad in me.
188 Yet STRIPLIN CHEEK look pretty so, meweet;
189 (All as the Rose in bed of Lillys set.)
190 For Florrey late to the great-town ha' been;
191 But oh, when first me saw, how blush'd the Swain!
192 Cause why; the sweetlip boy then cast to kiss;
193 Yet say me soft, be that so much amiss?
194 If be but why, small harm ybe I weet.
195 Colly and I late roved, Nuts to get.
196 I witless was so bonny and so brag,
197 (Paplet beware not be with Love so wag)
198 I scratchen Chin; ah luckless Lass the when!
199 See here but, Paplet! I all scratch'd my Chin!
200 The Wound he wiped, and kist it 'ore and 'ore;
201 Why sooth now, Paplet, else 'twould been a sore.
202 Whatso I could to bar my blush, I did;
203 Yet ween not whether somedeal look'd not red. [Page 26]
204 But 'twas allfor his Eyes so soft did seem:
205 While Honeybreath epon my Neck would steam.
206 And oh, his ringlet-locks too, where they fell
207 Tittled my breasts! and I was 'shamed to tell.
208 Why 'shamed? I would ha' stroak'd 'em off his Face:
209 And sooth now so, had'st felt how soft it was!
210 Oh pleasant! how you've lived! Didest not tho'
211 Out's Bosom take his LOCKS, when in did blow?
212 Do let me lye A-LEA with ye, now wo't?
213 For oft ye setten so, Lass, do ye not.
214 This Morn sweet sate we 'neath this sweet Maybough;
215 Ye Kentish Swains, no softer seat ye know!
216 The Flowers suck'd Honey-dew (O dainty draught!)
217 Soft for the Bees to sip that sip so soft. [Page 27]
218 Under my head a hand fair laid the Boy;
219 Then sinking down yclosen sleepie Eye.
220 Ay? say'st in sooth? and then — why dost not say?
221 Was it not lovely, when so loose he lay?
222 Meseems I should ha' pleased with tender Tongue
223 Or sooth'd, the while, with softness of a Song.
224 So as she said (and who so sweet can sain)
225 Her little Leg would in her Fellow's twine.
226 Then dainty'd droppen Hand in Soflie Breast:
227 Ah dainty Hand! how Cubbin yearn'd to kiss't!
228 Oh soft I lull'd him, soft as I could lull;
229 And in my Bosom put his Head to loll!
230 Sweet glow'd the while, his pretty rosie Cheek;
231 Smooth lay elong his Limbs, so slim and slieke.
232 Fair fed I on the fairness of his Face;
233 O Paplet, didst but ween how pleasant 'twas!
234 I've heard 'tis dainty lye along with Ene[*]
[*] Ene. Or, One.
235 We love; say Soflie, be't so dainty then?
236 Dainty? Ay dainty more than heart may weet
237 Don't look at me, Pap, and I'll tell thee what.
238 I putten hand in's bosom now that be's,
239 So silkie soft! then gently gave't a kiss!
240 Soft simpering saiden this the lovely Maid.
241 While Paplet 'tween her twey her hand fair had;
242 Who oft would turn and shift, as ill at ease:
243 Cubbin did too to see't. Ah careful Case!
244 Stay, Soflin, list! Heard I not some one sneeze
245 'Twas 'mong the SEDGE; fast by those murmuring Bees!
246 Poor CHICK, how thou dost quake! prethee leave quake.
247 Sooth 'twas some Bird but chirp'd in th'bushie brake
248 Much Wonder give it me, my gentle DEAR!
249 Thou nought, ne any one, suspectest 'ere.
250 Why wouldst have fear? I wonder why dost warn!.
251 When I have wrong'd, then I to fear will learn.
252 Sure Soflin none will harm; if Soflin none;
253 And well I ween, I never any one.
254 But look, ah me! how Flow'rs be blown out hair;
255 And bosom too! — But LOVIE likes it bare.
256 Then do Lads like in sooth, or seemen they?
257 I've heard say, YOUNGLING SWAIN will harm YOUNG MEY.
258 Yet Florrey looks so pretty and so pert,
259 Nought I know how, fancy he could not hurt.
260 And Collikin, O me! but Collikin,
261 Of all the Swains, for me — he is the Swain!
262 O simple he's of Chear, and meek of Mein;
263 All-fine his Flesh, and sooth as soft his Skin!
264 So prettily his Words slip off his Tongue,
265 With a little waggish Lisp emong!
266 But when he sooths too pleasant 'tis to bear!
267 He kisses, I ask if a rosie be near!
268 But see there! Lallet's CADE! how that came there?
269 Sure by the Lamb the Lassie should be near!
270 Oh! Well beween'd! We bath in Brook this Eve
271 You see where SPRAYS so sweet a shadow give.
272 You're one; and Lallet Lass so heavenly hewn;
273 And Poppit maiden ripe as Rose in June.
274 This Florey loves; and Fauney fresh love that;
275 Cuddleit say some. Up Lass! mayhap they wait.
276 THEY go: Their BOSOMS ope to th' Evening Air:
277 And dip their blooming BEAUTYS fresh and fair:
278 They pretty play and paddle in the Wet:
279 And strow with fairest Flow'rs the Streamulet
280 But Paplet wistful was; On bank she set,
281 Siping the Honeysukles juicie SWEET.
282 But ah, her mind elsewhere! alass on love!
283 Oh Soflin, thou hast wrong'd a tender DOVE!
284 When parted All; and All hied home; she made
285 As if she too; but silent by Moonshade,
286 Stale back to th' BUSH; with hands in bosom laid,
287 (Those hands all fair as flower) and hanging head.
288 Mayhap (soft said she) now HE goes to Bed.
289 I wonder how HE lyes when there he's laid! [Page 32]
290 Besure HE mind's not me when 'mong the Swains.
291 O could I touch HIM but, just touch meseems!
292 Yet looked she at Moonshine on the Stream;
293 That twinkled fair, and strove not think on him.
294 Mused too on th' varying FIGURES made on Grass,
295 By th' Light, that 'tween the waving Trees did pass.
296 Where fancyeth she depainten this and that,
297 (But all of Love) atill to th' BUSH did get.
298 There blush'd when first it saw to think that she
299 Should so steal back to th' place where Colly lay.
300 And am I then? And am I grown, she sain,
301 (With that gan pretty finger put in Eyen).
302 So sly and false? Oh Heav'n! don't see! or do,
303 Forgive! — small weeneth Soflin where I now.
304 So saying on the bank adown she laid.
305 Just where the Swainet lean'd, as Soflin said.
306 Then, smiling, thus: MAYHAP his head was put
307 Where mine is now: Who knows? O happy ROOT!
308 This gentle Cubbinet did see and hear,
309 Waiting abie, the pretty HEART to chear.
310 He went to sooth her soft, and warn her how
311 She thought on Collikin. All would not do.
312 Soon as she saw, she started from her seat:
313 Ne would she hear him Pipe, ne talk awhit.
314 So that he made as if went strait away;
315 But went no farther then afore he lay.
316 The dainty-limbed Lass, as soft to see,
317 As springing Flowrets in the Month of May,
318 Smooth laid her slender Features down again,
319 All on the sweetness of the Flowrie Plain. [Page 34]
320 Ah gentle HEART! ah HEART of prettiness!
321 Where is the Dalliance, and the tender Kiss?
322 Then sigh'd out this the rosie-liped Lass,
323 Soft as her Eye on Heaven yfixen was.
324 WHAT aileth, O what aileth thee, my Heart;
325 Now sooth meseem's thou be'st not as thou wer't.
326 Be Collikin (ah would he other was!)
327 Far fairer than the fairest Lad or Lass,
328 Yet what have I to do with Collikin?
329 Let me not be, e're be for Soflie's Pain!
330 Tho', methinks, were he not her's, I could well
331 Wish he were mine, Oh me, how wish him well!
332 Thus sate the YOUNGLING MEY, till far the Night
333 Was spent, and sooth the Moon nigh lost her light.
334 Then up gan rise; but 'ere she 'gan up rise,
335 Tuck'd up her Hair, and wiped her dewie Eyes. [Page 35]
336 The SOFTHEART SWAIN (for Swainets all are so)
337 Staid till he wept, and when he wept did go.
338 Unhappy Soflin! Now there love's with thee,
339 The sweetest Mey that ever Sun did see.
340 All he had seen or heard, in head kept he,
341 To cut on Crook, or mark upon his Tree.
342 For sure there is not who can envy that;
343 Not one, I ween, can envy LASSE's CHAT.
344 But why so fond of LASSES CHAT, say you.
345 Oh, had you seen 'em, you'd ha' been so too!
346 Ye gentle YOUTHS! who rove where led by chance
347 If be on Paplet's grief your Eye should glance,
348 Think the poor Lass mishap enough has had;
349 Ah don't you add, by hating what she said!
350 Ween, if ye maken mock at it, ye make
351 At Paplet mock; don't so, for Pappie's sake!