The Palmer's Ode

by Robert Greene

Robert Greene

Old Menalcas on a day,

As in field this shepherd lay,

Tuning of his oaten pipe,

Which he hit with many a stripe,

Said to Coridon that he

Once was young and full of glee:

"Blithe and wanton was I then;

Such desires follow men.

As I lay and kept my sheep,

Came the God that hateth sleep,

Clad in armour all of fire,

Hand in hand with Queen Desire;

And with a dart that wounded nigh,

Pierced my heart as I did lie;

That when I woke I 'gan swear,

Phillis' beauty palm did bear.

Up I start, forth went I,

With her face to feed mine eye:

There I saw Desire sit,

That my heart with love had hit,

Laying forth bright beauty's hooks

To entrap my grazing looks.

Love I did and 'gan to woo,

Pray and sigh; all would not do:

Women, when they take the toy,

Covet to be counted coy.

Coy she was, and I 'gan court,

She thought love was but a sport.

Profound hell was in my thought,

Such a pain Desire had wrought,

That I sued with sighs and tears.

Still ingrate she stopped her ears,

Till my youth I had spent.

Last a passion of Repent

Told me flat that Desire

Was a brand of loves fire,

Which consumeth men in thrall,

Virtue, youth, wit, and all.

At this saw back I start,

Beat Desire from my heart,

Shook off love and made an oath,

To be enemy to both.

Old I was when thus I fled

Such fond toys as cloyed my head.

But this I learned at Virtue's gate,

The way to good is never late.'

Last updated February 16, 2018