A Sweet Nosegay, or Pleasant Poesy, Containing a Hundred and Ten Philosophical Flowers

By Isabella Whitney 1548–1573 Isabella Whitney
Those strokes which mates in mirth do give
        do seem to be but light,
Although sometime they leave a sign
        seems grievous to the sight.

He that is void of any friend,
        him company to keep,
Walks in a world of wilderness,
        full fraught with dangers deep.

Each lover knoweth what he likes
        and what he doth desire,
But seld, or never, doth he know
        what thing he should require.

Affection fond deceives the wise
        and love makes men such noddies
That to their selves they seem as dead
        yet live in other bodies.

Ask nothing of thy neighbour that
        thou wouldst not let him have:
Nor say him nay of that which thou
        wouldst get if thou didst crave.

Two eyes, two ears, and but one tongue
        Dame Nature hath us framed
That we might see and hear much more
        than should with tongue be named.

Seek not each man to please, for that
        is more than God bids do:
Please thou the best, and neuer care,
        what wicked say thereto.

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Poet Isabella Whitney 1548–1573


SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance


Isabella Whitney claims attention as the first Englishwoman believed to have written original secular poetry for publication. Her established oeuvre consists of two short anthologies of lively materials joined in a winsome, original manner. The Copy of a Letter (1567?) includes three robust love poems, with an "admonition" appended to the first, written in the personae of jilted (but unconventional) men and women and playing on . . .

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SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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