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A Dialogue Between Two Shepherds

Sir Philip Sidney 1554 (Penshurst, Kent) – 1586 (Zutphen)



Uttered in a Pastoral Show at Wilton.

WILL. Dick, since we cannot dance, come, let a cheerful voice
Show that we do not grudge at all when others do rejoice.

DICK. Ah Will, though I grudge not, I count it feeble glee,
With sight made dim with daily tears another's sport to see.
Whoever lambkins saw, yet lambkins love to play,
To play when that their loved dams are stolen or gone astray?
If this in them be true, as true in men think I,
A lustless song forsooth thinks he that hath more lust to cry.

WILL. A time there is for all, my mother often says,
When she, with skirts tucked very high, with girls at football plays
When thou hast mind to weep, seek out some smoky room:
Now let those lightsome sights we see thy darkness overcome.

DICK. What joy the joyful sun gives unto bleared eyes;
That comfort in these sports you like, my mind his comfort tries.

WILL. What? Is thy bagpipe broke, or are thy lambs miswent;
Thy wallet or thy tar-box lost; or thy new raiment-rent?

DICK. I would it were but thus, for thus it were too well.

WILL. Thou see'st my ears do itch at it: good Dick thy sorrow tell.

DICK. Hear then, and learn to sigh: a mistress I do serve,
Whose wages make me beg the more, who feeds me till I starve;
Whose livery is such, as most I freeze apparelled most,
And looks so near unto my cure, that I must needs be lost.

WILL. What? These are riddles sure: art thou then bound to her?

DICK. Bound as I neither power have, nor would have power, to stir.

WILL. Who bound thee?

DICK. Love, my lord.

WILL. What witnesses thereto?

DICK. Faith in myself, and Worth in her, which no proof can undo.

WILL. What seal?

DICK. My heart deep graven.

WILL. Who made the band so fast?

DICK. Wonder that, by two so black eyes the glitt'ring stars be past.

WILL. What keepeth safe thy band?

DICK. Remembrance is the chest
Lock'd fast with knowing that she is of worldly things the best.

WILL. Thou late of wages plain'dst: what wages may'sh thou have?

DICK. Her heavenly looks, which more and more do give me cause to crave.

WILL. If wages make you want, what food is that she gives?

DICK. Tear's drink, sorrow's meat, wherewith not I, but in me my death lives.

WILL. What living get you then?

DICK. Disdain; but just disdain;
So have I cause myself to plain, but no cause to complain.

WILL. What care takes she for thee?

DICK. Her care is to prevent
My freedom, with show of her beams, with virtue, my content.

WILL. God shield us from such dames! If so our dames be sped,
The shepherds will grow lean I trow, their sheep will be ill-fed.
But Dick, my counsel mark: run from the place of woo:
The arrow being shot from far doth give the smaller blow.

DICK. Good Will, I cannot take thy good advice; before
That foxes leave to steal, they find they die therefore.

WILL. Then, Dick, let us go hence lest we great folks annoy:
For nothing can more tedious be than plaint in time of joy.

DICK. Oh hence! O cruel word! which even dogs do hate:
But hence, even hence, I must needs go; such is my dogged fate.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier, scholar and soldier who is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan age. more…

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