Care Not For These Ladies

Thomas Campion (1601) This bawdy song was first printed with music by Thomas Campion himself in A Booke of Ayres. The first stanza sets up an opposition between courtly "Ladies" and Amarillis, described as a "wanton countrey maide" (l. 4), an obscene pun that establishes from the beginning the lewd tone that characterizes this poem. This innuendo is continued in the refrain, particularly in the line "when we come where comfort is" (l. 9), where the alliteration helps to recall the "countrey maide" of the first stanza. The refrain also asserts that Amarillis has an inexhaustible sexual appetite, and that, despite her feigned struggle against the poet's advances, "she never will say no" (l. 10), reflecting 16th-century attitudes to sexuality in a way that may prove uncomfortable for a modern reader.

The poet asserts that "nature art disdaineth" (l. 4), and this implies an opposition between the artifice traditionally associated with the court and the simplicity and "naturalness" of the country, which is continued throughout the poem. The second stanza figures the willingness of Amarillis to engage in sexual activity as a gift of "fruit and flowers" (l. 12). This is presented as a model of reciprocality in contrast with the one-sided-ness of relationships with courtly "Ladies," where the lover has effectively bought love with "gold" (l. 15). The third stanza portrays the location of lovemaking as among "mosse and leaves unbought" (l. 24) in contrast to the "beds by strangers wrought," where courtly assignations take place. This recalls the expense that the poet complained of in the second stanza, but it also suggests the unnecessary complexity of formal courtship alluded to by its association with "art." The opposition between the artifice of the court and the "naturalness" of the country thus serves as a way of invoking an ideally honest space, where human relationships can operate free from stifling social conventions.

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