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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare: Poems.  1914.

Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, VI.

“As it fell upon a day”


AS it fell upon a day 
In the merry month of May, 
Sitting in a pleasant shade 
Which a grove of myrtles made, 
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,         5
Trees did grow, and plants did spring; 
Every thing did banish moan, 
Save the nightingale alone: 
She, poor bird, as all forlorn, 
Lean’d her breast up-till a thorn,  10
And there sung the dolefull’st ditty, 
That to hear it was great pity: 
‘Fie, fie, fie!’ now would she cry; 
‘Tereu, Tereu!’ by and by; 
That to hear her so complain,  15
Scarce I could from tears refrain; 
For her griefs, so lively shown, 
Made me think upon mine own. 
Ah! thought I, thou mourn’st in vain, 
None takes pity on thy pain:  20
Senseless trees they cannot hear thee, 
Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee: 
King Pandion he is dead, 
All thy friends are lapp’d in lead, 
All thy fellow birds do sing  25
Careless of thy sorrowing. 
Even so, poor bird, like thee, 
None alive will pity me. 
Whilst as fickle Fortune smil’d, 
Thou and I were both beguil’d.  30
  Every one that flatters thee 
Is no friend in misery. 
Words are easy, like the wind; 
Faithful friends are hard to find: 
Every man will be thy friend  35
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend; 
But if store of crowns be scant, 
No man will supply thy want. 
If that one be prodigal, 
Bountiful they will him call,  40
And with such-like flattering, 
‘Pity but he were a king.’ 
If he be addict to vice, 
Quickly him they will entice; 
If to women he be bent,  45
They have him at commandement: 
But if Fortune once do frown, 
Then farewell his great renown; 
They that fawn’d on him before 
Use his company no more.  50
He that is thy friend indeed, 
He will help thee in thy need: 
If thou sorrow, he will weep; 
If thou wake, he cannot sleep: 
Thus of every grief in heart  55
He with thee does bear a part. 
These are certain signs to know 
Faithful friend from flattering foe. 


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