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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    woulds’t thou ?

    I am new to this forum so let me start by saying "Hello all".

    I would like to ask your help in better understanding the below quotation.

    Dost thou love picking meat? Or woulds’t thou see
    A man in the clouds, and have him speak to thee?


    In particular I am interested in the words: "woulds’t thou". How would this translate into modern English?

    Thank you.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    Hi and welcome.

    Would you, with the sense of "Would you like to?"
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    It should be would'st as it's a contraction of wouldest.

    Rover

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    #4

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    So the old form of would was "wouldest"? I guess I thought it was just wouldst. I didn't notice the apostrophe at all, thought!.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #5

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    You do see wouldst without the apostrophe.

    Thy brother Death came, and cried,
    'Wouldst thou me?'
    Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
    Murmur'd like a noontide bee,
    'Shall I nestle near thy side?
    Wouldst thou me?'—And I replied,
    'No, not thee!'
    Shelley Night: Night, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    What's the difference between wouldest and wouldst?

  4. Newbie
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    #6

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    Thanks for you replies.

    The quotation is exact and the apostrophe in "woulds’t" is as in the source.

    Whoever the author of the first quote is also quoting. The original looks like this:

    "Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
    A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?"


    A misprint is feasible but unlikely as the first quote is on the title page.

    wouldest
    (archaic) Second-person singular simple past form of will.

    So

    "Or would’st thou see" = "Or will you see" in past tense, or "Or had you seen"

    ?

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    #7

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    There's a non-current (at least in the US) use of "would" that means it's what is wanted.

    Would you that I leave you now? = Do you want me to leave you now?

    My reading of the poem is that use.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    Quote Originally Posted by bbop View Post
    Thanks for you replies.

    The quotation is exact and the apostrophe in "woulds’t" is as in the source.

    Whoever the author of the first quote is also quoting. The original looks like this:

    "Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
    A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?"


    A misprint is feasible but unlikely as the first quote is on the title page.

    wouldest
    (archaic) Second-person singular simple past form of will.

    So

    "Or would’st thou see" = "Or will you see" in past tense, or "Or had you seen"

    ?
    You're right- I was just wondering whether there was a difference between would'st as a contraction and wouldst as an alternative form of wouldest as my knowledge of older English is not that good.

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    #9

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    Quote Originally Posted by bbop View Post
    Thanks for you replies.

    The quotation is exact and the apostrophe in "woulds’t" is as in the source.

    Whoever the author of the first quote is also quoting. The original looks like this:

    "Dost thou love picking meat? Or would’st thou see
    A man i’ the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?"

    A misprint is feasible but unlikely as the first quote is on the title page.

    wouldest
    (archaic) Second-person singular simple past form of will.

    So

    "Or would’st thou see" = "Or will you see" in past tense, or "Or had you seen"

    ?
    I think it would be hard to argue for the past tense in this case. Perhaps if the first sentence were, "Didst thou ...?", you'd have a parallelism.
    It seems to mean, "Or would you prefer to see a man in the clouds; would you rather...; do you want to...; are you waiting to see..."
    But further context would be needed to be sure. Does it seem that the speaker is referring to the past or the present (or future) at this point?

  7. Newbie
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    #10

    Re: woulds’t thou ?

    Hi Raymott,

    The quotation is in full.

    Good point on the tenses

    I concur with you on the translation.

    Thanks everyone.

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