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Be it ryght, or wrong, these men among

On women do complayne;1
Affyrmynge this, how that it is

A labour spent in vayne,
To love them wele; for never a dele

They love a man agayne:
For late a man do what he can,

Theyr favour to attayne,
Yet, yf a newe do them persue,

Theyr first true lover than
Laboureth for nought; for from her thought

He is a banyshed man.


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I say nat nay, but that all day

It is bothe writ and sayd
That womans faith is, as who sayth,

All utterly decayd;
But, neverthelesse, ryght good wytnèsse

In this case might be layd,
That they love true, and continue:

Recorde the Not-browne Mayde:
Which, when her love came, her to prove,

To her to make his mone,
Wolde nat depart; for in her hart

She loved but hym alone.



Than betwaine us late us dyscus

What was all the manere
Betwayne them two: we wyll also

Tell all the payne, and fere,
That she was in. Nowe I begyn,

So that ye me answere; Ver. 2, Woman. Prolusions, and Mr. West's copy.–Ver. 11, her, i.e. their. 1 My friend Mr Farmer proposes to read the first lines thus as a Latiuism:

Be it right or wrong, 'tis men among,

On women to complayne.

Wherfore, all ye, that present be

I pray you, gyve an ere.
'I am the knyght; I come by nyght,

As secret as I can;
Sayinge, Alas! thus standeth the case,

I am a banyshed man.'


And I your wyll for to fulfyll

In this wyll nat refuse;
Trustying to shewe, in wordès fewe,
That men have an yll use

40 (To theyr own shame) women to blame,

And causelesse them accuse: Therfore to you I answere nowe,

All women to excuse, —
Myne owne hart dere, with you what chere? 45

I pray you, tell anone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.


It standeth so; a dede is do

Wherof grete harme shall growe:
My destiny is for to dy

A shamefull deth, I trowe;
Or elles to fle: the one must be.

None other way I knowe,
But to withdrawe as an outlawe,

And take me to my bowe.
Wherfore, adue, my owne hart true!

None other rede I can:
For I must to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.

55 65

O lord, what is thys worldys blysse,

That changeth as the mone!
My somers day in lusty may

Is derked before the none.
I here you say, farewell: Nay, nay,

We départ nat so sone.
Why say ye so? wheder wyll ye go?

Alas! what have ye done?
All my welfàre to sorrowe and care

Sholde chaunge, yf ye were gone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.



I can beleve, it shall you greve,

And somewhat you dystrayne;
But, aftyrwarde, your paynès harde

Within a day or twayne
Shall sone aslake; and ye shall take

Comfort to you agayne.
Why sholde ye ought? for, to make thought,

Your labour were in vayne.
And thus I do; and pray you to,

As hartely, as I can;
For I must to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.



Now, syth that ye have shewed to me

The secret of your mynde,
I shall be playne to you agayne,
Lyke as ye shall me fynde.

Ver. 63, The somers, Prol.


Syth it is so, that ye wyll go,

I wolle not leve behynde;
Shall never be sayd, the Not-browne Mayd

Was to her love unkynde:
Make you redy, for so am I,

Allthough it were anone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.



Yet I you rede to take good hede

What men wyll thynke, and say:
Of yonge, and olde it shall be tolde,

That ye be gone away,
Your wanton wyll for to fulfill,

In grene wode you to play;
And that ye myght from your delyght

No lenger make delay.
Rather than ye sholde thus for me

Be called an yll woman,
Yet wolde I to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.



Though it be songe of old and yonge,

That I sholde be to blame,
Theyrs be the charge, that speke so large

In hurtynge of my name:
For I wyll prove, that faythfulle love

It is devoyd of shame;
In your dystresse, and hevynesse,

To part with you, the same:

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Ver. 91, Shall it never. Prol. and Mr. W.–Ver. 94, Althouglit. Mr. W.

And sure all tho, that do not so,

True lovers are they none;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.

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I counceyle you, remember howe,

It is no maydens lawe,
Nothynge to dout, but to renne out

To wode with an outlàwe:
For ye must there in your hand bere

A bowe, redy to drawe;
And, as a thefe, thus must you lyve,

Ever in drede and awe;
Wherby to you grete harme myght growe:

Yet had I lever than,
That I had to the grene wode go,

Alone, a banyshed man.


I thinke nat nay, but as ye say,

It is no maydens lore:
But love may make me for your sake, 135

As I have sayd before
To come on fote, to hunt, and shote

To gete us mete in store;
For so that I your company
. May have, I ask no more:
From which to part, it maketh my hart

As colde as ony stone;
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde

I love but you alone.
Ver. 117, To shewe all. Prol. and Mr. W.--Ver. 133, I say nat. Prol. and
Mr. W.-Ver. 138, and store. Camb. copy.


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