Woman's Changeableness

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Woman's Changeableness  (before 1587) 
by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Steven May lists this as "possibly" by Oxford. Printed in variant form as the work of Oxford in 1587, but attributed to "R.W." in the Harleian MS. A version was printed in Britons Bower of Delights (1591).

If women could be fair and yet not fond,
Or that their love were firm not fickle, still,
I would not marvel that they make men bond,
By service long to purchase their good will;
But when I see how frail those creatures are,
I muse that men forget themselves so far.

To mark the choice they make, and how they change,
How oft from Phoebus do they flee to Pan,
Unsettled still like haggards wild they range,
These gentle birds that fly from man to man;
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist
And let them fly fair fools which way they list.

Yet for disport we fawn and flatter both,
To pass the time when nothing else can please,
And train them to our lure with subtle oath,
Till, weary of their wiles, ourselves we ease;
And then we say when we their fancy try,
To play with fools, O what a fool was I.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.