William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Henry VI, Part III
O God! methinks it were a happy life,
To be no better than a homely swain;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run, 25
How many make the hour full complete;
How many hours bring about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is known, then to divide the times: 30
So many hours must I tend my flock;
So many hours must I take my rest;
So many hours must I contemplate;
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young; 35
So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean:
So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,
Pass'd over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave. 40
Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!
Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
To shepherds looking on their silly sheep,
Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy
To kings that fear their subjects' treachery? 45
O, yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.
And to conclude, the shepherd's homely curds,
His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle.
His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
All which secure and sweetly he enjoys, 50
Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
His body couched in a curious bed,
When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him.
36 ean: give birth
William Byrd (1543-1623), Psalmes, Sonets, & songs of sadnes and pietie, made into Musicke of fiue parts
(London: Thomas East, 1588), number XIX:
What pleasure haue great princes
more daintie to their choice,
then heardmen wyld, who carelesse
in quiet lyfe reioyce,
& fortunes fate not fearing, 5
sing sweet in Sommer morning.
Their dealings plaine and rightfull,
are void of all disceit:
they neuer know how spightefull
it is to kneele and waite 10
on fauorite presumptius,
whose pride is vaine and sumptious.
All day their flocks ech tendeth,
at night they take their rest,
more quiet than who sendeth 15
his shippe into the East,
where gold and pearle are plentie,
but getting verie daintie.
For Lawiers and their pleading
the'steeme it not a straw, 20
they thinke that honest meaning,
is of it selfe a law,
where conscience iudgeth plainelie,
they spend no monie vainelie.
O happie who thus liueth, 25
not caring much for gold,
with clothing which suffiseth,
to keepe him from the cold,
though poore and plaine his diet,
yet merrie it is and quiet. 30
From the movie Good Will Hunting
Sean: So what do you really want to do?
Will: I wanna be a shepherd.
Will: I wanna move up to Nashua, get a nice little spread, get some sheep and tend to them.
Sean: Maybe you should go do that.