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              George Peele (1556-1596)

from The Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe

    Hot sunne, coole fire, temperd with sweet aire,
    Black shade, fair nurse, shadow my white haire
    Shine sun, burne fire, breath, aire, and ease mee,
    Black shade, fair nurse, shroud me and please me
    Shadow (my sweet nurse) keep me from burning
    Make not my glad cause, cause of mourning.
    Let not my beauties fire,
    Inflame unstaied desire,
    Nor pierce any bright eye,
    That wandreth lightly.


The above poem comes at the beginning of the play The Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe. With the Tragedie of Absalon. The version above is the one printed in 1599 in London by Adam Islip. The play begins with a prologue, and then David discovers Bethsabe, with her maid, singing the above song as she bathes in a spring. A copy of the text can be found, for example, in:
  • Peele, George. The Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe. W.W. Greg, ed. Oxford: The Malone Reprint Society, 1913.

    Modernized versions can be found, for example, in:

  • Ferguson, Margaret, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy, eds. The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Fourth Edition). New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996. (where it is titled Hot Sun, Cool Fire).
  • Williams, Oscar, ed. Immortal Poems of the English Language New York: Pocket Books, 1952. (where it is titled Bathsheba's Song).