From the Molehill Vol. 3: “Never, Sweeting, Could I Play Thee False”

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The newest issue of The Molehill contains a couple of truly unique pieces of history. The first is an original, previously-unpublished essay by the great G. K. Chesterton, and you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book to read that one. But the other is this bit of literary treasure discovered by Jonathan Rogers while doing research via microfilm in the Vanderbilt library. It’s a hand-written poem he found in the margin of a sixteenth-century manuscript by a Sir Richard Roland, Second Earl of Astley. Apparently it has never been published (at least not until we published it in The Molehill Vol. 3), so this is a poem that few living eyes but yours, dear reader, have ever seen.

“Never, Sweeting, Could I Play Thee False”

Never, sweeting, could I play thee false,
E’en until the day we both should die—
Verily, till we go to our vaults.
Ever was there lover true as I?

Rocks may split, the mountains all remove,
Gone away the rivers, all run dry.
Only I will love still, still unmoved.
Never was there lover true as I.

Never, sweeting, could I make thee weep.
Away, away with each old love thou ruest.
Give me thy heart, and my heart thou canst keep.
I of every lover am the truest.

Verses sometimes lie; I never do.
Eye me, and the soul of truth thou viewest.
Yew bow never shot a shaft so true.
Of every lover, dear, I am the truest.

Until the end I plight my troth, forsooth.
Upon my hoary age, upon thy youth…
Prithee, hast thou ever known such truth?

—Sir Richard Roland (1587)


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