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A Bucolic, or Discourse of Neatherds

by Robert Herrick, 1648

1. Come, blitheful neatherds, let us lay
  A wager who the best shall play,
  Of thee or I, the roundelay
  That fits the business of the day.

Chor. And Lalage the judge shall be,
  To give the prize to thee, or me.

2. Content, begin, and I will bet
  A heifer smooth, and black as jet,
  In every part alike complete,
  And wanton as a kid as yet.

Chor. And Lalage, with cow-like eyes,
  Shall be disposeress of the prize.

1. Against thy heifer, I will here
  Lay to thy stake a lusty steer
  With gilded horns, and burnish’d clear.

Chor. Why, then, begin, and let us hear
  The soft, the sweet, the mellow note
  That gently purls from either’s oat.

  2. The stakes are laid: let’s now apply
  Each one to make his melody.

Lal. The equal umpire shall be I,
  Who’ll hear, and so judge righteously.

Chor. Much time is spent in prate; begin,
  And sooner play, the sooner win.

  [1 Neatherd plays

2. That’s sweetly touch’d, I must confess,
  Thou art a man of worthiness;
  But hark how I can now express
My love unto my neatherdess.
[He sings

Chor. A sugar’d note! and sound as sweet
  As kine when they at milking meet.

1. Now for to win thy heifer fair,
  I’ll strike thee such a nimble air
  That thou shalt say thyself ’tis rare,
  And title me without compare.

Chor. Lay by a while your pipes, and rest,
  Since both have here deserved best.

2. To get thy steerling, once again
  I’ll play thee such another strain
  That thou shalt swear my pipe does reign
Over thine oat as sovereign.
[He sings

Chor. And Lalage shall tell by this,
  Whose now the prize and wager is.

1. Give me the prize. 2. The day is mine.
1. Not so; my pipe has silenc’d thine:
  And hadst thou wager’d twenty kine,
  They were mine own. Lal. In love combine.

Chor. And lay ye down your pipes together,
  As weary, not o’ercome by either.

Published in Hesperides

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