To A Lady With Child That Ask'd An Old Shirt.
by Richard Lovelace
And why an honour'd ragged shirt, that shows,
Like tatter'd ensigns, all its bodie's blows?
Should it be swathed in a vest so dire,
It were enough to set the child on fire;
Dishevell'd queen[s] should strip them of their hair,
And in it mantle the new rising heir:
Nor do I know ought worth to wrap it in,
Except my parchment upper-coat of skin;
And then expect no end of its chast tears,
That first was rowl'd in down, now furs of bears.
But since to ladies 't hath a custome been
Linnen to send, that travail and lye in;
To the nine sempstresses, my former friends,
I su'd; but they had nought but shreds and ends.
At last, the jolli'st of the three times three
Rent th' apron from her smock, and gave it me;
'Twas soft and gentle, subt'ly spun, no doubt;
Pardon my boldnese, madam; HERE'S THE CLOUT.