The Admonition by the Author to all Young Gentlewomen: And to all other Maids being in Love

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Ye Virgins, ye from Cupid's tents do bear away the foil,Whose hearts as yet with raging love most painfully do boil.

To you I speak: for you be they that good advice do lack:Oh, if I could good counsell get, my tongue should not be slack.

But such as I can give, I will here in few words express,Which, if you do observe, it will some of your care redress.

Beware of fair and painted talk, beware of flattering tongues:The Mermaids do pretend no good for all their pleasant songs.

Some use the tears of crocodiles, contrary to their heart:And if they cannot always weep, they wet their cheeks by art.

Ovid, within his Art of Love, doth teach them this same knackTo wet their hand and touch their eyes, so oft as tears they lack.

Why have ye such deceit in store? have you such crafty wile?Less craft than this, God knows, would soon us simple souls beguile.

And will ye not leave off? but still delude us in this wise?Sith it is so, we trust we shall take heed to fained lies.

Trust not a man at the first sight but try him well before:I wish all maids within their breasts to keep this thing in store.

For trial shall declare his truth and show what he doth think,Whether he be a lover true, or do intend to shrink.

If Scilla had not trust too much before that she did try,She could not have been clean forsake when she for help did cry.

Or if she had had good advice, Nisus had lived long:How durst she trust a stranger and do her dear father wrong.

King Nisus had a hair by fate, which hair, while he did kepe,He never should be overcome, neither on land nor deep.

The stranger that the daughter lou'd did war against the KingAnd always sought how that he might them in subjection bring.

This Scylla stole away the hair, for to obtain her will,And gave it to the stranger that did straight her father kill.

Then she, who thought her self most sure to have her whole desire,Was clean reject and left behind when he did home retire.

Or if such falsehood had been once unto Oenone known,About the fields of Ida wood, Paris had walkt alone.

Or if Demophoon's deceit to Phillis had been told,She had not been transformed so, as Poets tell of old.

Hero did try Leander's truth before that she did trust:Therefore she found him unto her both constant, true, and just.

For he always did swim the sea when stars in sky did glideTill he was drowned by the way near hand unto the side.

She scrat her face, she tare her hair (it grieveth me to tell)When she did know the end of him that she did love so well.

But like Leander there be few, therefore in time take heedAnd always try before ye trust, so shall you better speed.

The little fish that careless is within the water clear,How glad is he, when he doth see, a bait for to appear.

He thinks his hap right good to be, that he the same could spy,And so the simple fool doth trust too much before he try.

O little fish, what hap hadst thou? to have such spiteful fate,To come into one's cruel hands out of so happy state?

Thou didst suspect no harm when thou upon the bait didst look:O that thou hadst had Linceus' eyes for to have seen the hook.

Then hadst thou with thy pretty mates been playing in the streamsWhereas sir Phoebus daily doth shew forth his golden beams.

But sith thy fortune is so ill to end thy life on shore,Of this thy most unhappy end I mind to speak no more.

But of thy fellow's chance that late such pretty shift did make,That he from fishers' hook did sprit before he could him take,

And now he pries on euery bait, suspecting still that prick(for to lie hid in every thing) wherewith the fishers strick,

And since the fish that reason lacks once warnèd doth beware,Why should not we take heed to that that turneth us to care?

And I who was deceived late by one's unfaithful tearsTrust now for to beware, if that I live this hundreth years.


© Isabella Whitney