And If I Did, What Then?

By George Gascoigne 1535–1578 George Gascoigne
“And if I did, what then?
Are you aggriev’d therefore?
The sea hath fish for every man,
And what would you have more?”

   Thus did my mistress once,
Amaze my mind with doubt;
And popp’d a question for the nonce
To beat my brains about.

   Whereto I thus replied:
“Each fisherman can wish
That all the seas at every tide
Were his alone to fish.

   “And so did I (in vain)
But since it may not be,
Let such fish there as find the gain,
And leave the loss for me.

   “And with such luck and loss
I will content myself,
Till tides of turning time may toss
Such fishers on the shelf.

   “And when they stick on sands,
That every man may see,
Then will I laugh and clap my hands,
As they do now at me.”

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Poet George Gascoigne 1535–1578

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Men & Women, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

 George  Gascoigne

Biography

George Gascoigne, the son of landowner and farmer John Gascoigne, was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, England. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and replaced his father as an almoner at Elizabeth I’s coronation. However, as a farmer George Gascoigne was unsuccessful: he was imprisoned for debt and yet served in Parliament for two years, beginning in 1557. In 1571 Gascoigne joined the army, serving under the Prince of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Men & Women, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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