And If I Did What Then?


ca. 1535-1577


"And if I did what then?

Are you aggrieved therefore?

The sea hath fish for every man,

And what would you have more?"


Thus did my mistress once

Amaze my mind with doubt,

And popped a question for the nonce

To beat my brains about.


Whereto I thus replied:

"Each fisherman can wish

That all the sea at every tide

Were his alone to fish.


And so did I, in vain;

But since it may not be,

Let such fish there as find the gain,

And leave the loss for me.


And with such luck and loss

I will content myself,

Till tides of turning time may toss

Such fishers on the shelf.


And when they stick on sands,

That every man may see,

Then will I laugh and clap my hands,

As they do now at me."