Under the cool shade of a sycamore
I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour;
When lo, to interrupt my purpos’d rest,
Toward that shade I might behold address’d
The King and his companions. Warily
I stole into a neighbor thicket by,
And overheard what you shall overhear:
That by and by disguis’d they will be here.
Their herald is a pretty knavish page,
That well by heart hath conn’d his embassage.
Action and accent did they teach him there:
“Thus must thou speak,” and “thus thy body bear”;
And ever and anon they made a doubt
Presence majestical would put him out;
“For,” quoth the King, “an angel shalt thou see;
Yet fear not thou, but speak audaciously.”
The boy replied, “An angel is not evil;
I should have fear’d her had she been a devil.”
With that all laugh’d, and clapp’d him on the shoulder,
Making the bold wag by their praises bolder.
One rubb’d his elbow thus, and fleer’d, and swore
A better speech was never spoke before.
Another, with his finger and his thumb,
Cried, “Via! we will do’t, come what will come.”
The third he caper’d, and cried, “All goes well.”
The fourth turn’d on the toe, and down he fell.
With that they all did tumble on the ground,
With such a zealous laughter, so profound,
That in this spleen ridiculous appears,
To check their folly, passion’s solemn tears.