Press me not to take more pleasure
In this world of sugred lies,
And to use a larger measure
Than my strict, yet welcome size.
First, there is no pleasure here:
Colour’d griefs indeed there are,
Blushing woes, that look as clear
As if they could beauty spare.
Or if such deceits there be,
Such delights I meant to say,
There are no such things to me,
Who have pass’d my right away.
But I will not much oppose
Unto what you now advise:
Only take this gentle rose,
And therein my answer lies.
What is fairer than a rose?
What is sweeter? yet it purgeth.
Purgings enmity disclose,
Enmity forebearance urgeth.
If then all that worldlings prize
Be contracted to a rose;
Sweetly there indeed it lies,
But it biteth in the close.
So this flower doth judge and sentence
Worldly joys to a scourge:
For they all produce repentance,
And repentance is a purge.
But I health, not physic choose:
Only, though I you oppose,
Say that fairly I refuse,
For my answer is a rose.
George Herbert, 1633
Some notes on the text:
sugred lies: sugared lies, lies made sweet
Colour’d griefs: griefs painted, as with makeup, to be more attractive
As if they could beauty spare: As if they had beauty enough to spare some
pass’d my right away: handed off my right
yet it purgeth: Roses were used as a purgative.
Purgings…urgeth: purgatives bring forth the harmful food, which one will avoid in future
physic: a purgative medicine
Only…Say that fairly: fairly in a double sense: 1) justly 2) prettily