In this wood a man I met, On lamenting wholly set; Ruing change of wonted state, Whence he was transformed late, Once to shepherds' God retaining, Now in servile court remaining.
There he wand'ring malecontent, Up and down perplexed went, Daring not to tell to me, Spake unto a senseless tree, One among the rest electing, These same words, or this affecting:
"My old mates I grieve to see Void of me in field to be, Where we once our lovely sheep Lovingly like friends did keep; Oft each other's friendship proving, Never striving, but in loving.
"But may love abiding be In poor shepherds' base degree? It belongs to such alone To whom art of love is known: Seely shepherds are not witting What in art of love is fitting.
"Nay, what need the art to those To whom we our love disclose? It is to be used then, When we do but flatter men: Friendship true, in heart assured, Is by Nature's gifts procured.
"Therefore shepherds, wanting skill, Can Love's duties best fulfil; Since they know not how to feign, Nor with love to cloak disdain, Like the wiser sort, whose learning Hides their inward will of harming.
"Well was I, while under shade Oaten reeds me music made, Striving with my mates in song; Mixing mirth our songs among. Greater was the shepherd's treasure Than this false, fine, courtly pleasure.
"Where how many creatures be, So many puffed in mind I see; Like to Juno's birds of pride, Scarce each other can abide: Friends like to black swans appearing, Sooner these than those in hearing.