Farre in the countrey of Arden
There wond a knight hight Cassemen,
as bolde as Isenbras:
Fell was he and eger bent,
In battell and in Tournament,
as was the good sir Topas.
He had as antique stories tell,
A daughter cleaped Dowsabell,
a mayden fayre and free:
And for she was her fathers heire,
Full well she was ycond the leyre,
of mickle curtesie.
The silke wel couth she twist and twine,
And make the fine Marchpine,
and with the needle werke,
And she couth helpe the priest to say
His Mattens on a holyday,
and sing a Psalme in Kirke.
She ware a frocke of frolicke greene,
Might well beseeme a mayden Queene,
which seemly was to see.
A hood to that so neat and fine,
In colour like the colombine,
ywrought full featously.
Her feature all as fresh aboue,
As is the grasse that grows by Doue,
as lyth as lasse of Kent:
Her skin as soft as Lemster wooll,
As white as snow on peakish hull,
or Swanne that swims in Trent.
This mayden in a morne betime,
Went forth when May was in her prime,
to get sweet Cetywall,
The hony-suckle, the Harlocke,
The Lilly and the Lady-smocke,
to decke her summer hall.
Thus as she wandred here and there,
Ypicking of the bloomed Breere,
she chanced to espie
A shepheard sitting on a bancke,
Like Chanteclere he crowed crancke,
and pip'd with merrie glee:
He leard his sheepe as he him list,
When he would whistle in his fist,
to feede about him round:
Whilst he full many a caroll sung,
Vntill the fields and medowes rung,
and that the woods did sound:
In fauour this same shepheards swayne,
Was like the bedlam Tamburlayne,
which helde prowd Kings in awe:
But meeke he was as Lamb mought be,
Ylike that gentle Abel he,
whom his lewd brother slaw.
This shepheard ware a sheepe gray cloke,
Which was of the finest loke,
that could be cut with sheere,
His mittens were of Bauzens skinne,
His cockers were of Cordiwin
his hood of Meniueere.
His aule and lingell in a thong,
His tar-boxe on his broad belt hong,
his breech of Coyntrie blew:
Full crispe and curled were his lockes,
His browes as white as Albion rockes,
so like a louer true.
And pyping still he spent the day,
So mery as the Popingay:
which liked Dowsabell,
That would she ought or would she nought,
This lad would neuer from her thought:
she in loue-longing fell,
At length she tucked vp her frocke,
White as the Lilly was her smocke,
she drew the shepheard nie,
But then the shepheard pyp'd a good,
That all his sheepe forsooke their foode,
to heare his melodie.
Thy sheepe quoth she cannot be leane,
That haue a iolly shepheards swayne,
the which can pipe so well.
Yea but (sayth he) their shepheard may,
Jf pyping thus he pine away,
in loue of Dowsabell.
Of loue fond boy take thou no keepe,
Quoth she, looke well vnto thy sheepe,
lest they should hap to stray.
Quoth he, so had I done full well,
Had I not seene fayre Dowsabell,
come forth to gather Maye.
With that she gan to vaile her head,
Her cheekes were like the Roses red,
but not a word she sayd.
With that the shepheard gan to frowne,
He threw his pretie pypes adowne,
and on the ground him layd.
Sayth she, I may not stay till night,
And leaue my summer hall vndight,
and all for long of thee.
My Coate sayth he, nor yet my foulde,
Shall neither sheepe nor shepheard hould,
except thou fauour me.
Sayth she yet leuer I were dead,
Then I should lose my maydenhead,
and all for loue of men:
Sayth he yet are you too vnkind,
If in your heart you cannot finde,
to loue vs now and then:
And J to thee will be as kinde,
As Colin was to Rosalinde,
of curtesie the flower;
Then will I be as true quoth she,
As euer mayden yet might be,
vnto her Paramour:
With that she bent her snowe-white knee,
Downe by the shepheard kneeled shee,
and him she sweetely kist.
With that the shepheard whoop'd for ioy,
Quoth he, ther's neuer shepheards boy,
that euer was so blist.