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image by
John Stezaker

Spring

Song, from Act V, Scene 2 of Love’s Labors Lost by William Shakespeare (1598)

When daisies pied, and violets blue,
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
“Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen’s clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
“Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.


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March 4