When Daisies Pied and Violets Blue

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616 William Shakespeare
When daisies pied and violets blue
      And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
      Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: O, word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

   When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
      And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
      And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: O, word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

   When icicles hang by the wall,
      And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
      And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring-owl,
         Tu-who;
Tu-whit, tu-who—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

   When all aloud the wind doth blow,
      And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
      And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
         Tu-who;
Tu-whit, tu-who—a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

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Poet William Shakespeare 1564–1616

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Nature, Spring, Winter, Living

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 William  Shakespeare

Biography

While William Shakespeare's reputation is based primarily on his plays, he became famous first as a poet. With the partial exception of the Sonnets (1609), quarried since the early nineteenth century for autobiographical secrets allegedly encoded in them, the nondramatic writings have traditionally been pushed to the margins of the Shakespeare industry. Yet the study of his nondramatic poetry can illuminate Shakespeare's . . .

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Poems by William Shakespeare

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Nature, Spring, Winter, Living

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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