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The LiederNet Archive

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Psalms, Sonnets, and Songs of Sadness and Piety

Word count: 1436

Song Cycle by William Byrd (1542?3? - 1623)

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?. Though Amaryllis dance in green [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Though Amaryllis dance in green
  Like Fairy Queen,
  And sing full clear;
Corinna can, with smiling cheer.
Yet since their eyes make heart so sore,
Hey ho! chil love no more.

My sheep are lost for want of food
  And I so wood1
  That all the day
I sit and watch a herd-maid gay;
Who laughs to see me sigh so sore,
Hey ho! chil love no more.

Her loving looks, her beauty bright,
  Is such delight!
  That all in vain
I love to like, and lose my gain
For her, that thanks me not therefore.
Hey ho! chil love no more.

Ah wanton eyes! my friendly foes
  And cause of woes;
  Your sweet desire
Breeds flames of ice, and freeze in fire!
Ye scorn to see me weep so sore!
Hey ho! chil love no more.

Love ye who list, I force him not:
  Since God is wot,
  The more I wail,
The less my sighs and tears prevail.
What shall I do? but say therefore,
Hey ho! chil love no more.


View original text (without footnotes)
Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 132-133.

1 i.e., distracted.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. My mind to me a kingdom is [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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My mind to me a kingdom is:
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
That God or nature hath assigned.
Though much I want, that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely port, nor wealthy store,
No force to win a victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to win a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall!
For why? my mind despise them all.

I see that plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as are aloft,
Mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil, and keep with fear:
Such cares my mind can never bear.

I press to bear no haughty sway,
I wish no more than may suffice,
I do no more, than well I may;
Look, what I want, my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
My mind content with any thing.

I laugh not at another’s loss,
Nor grudge not at another’s gain.
No worldly waves my mind can toss,
I brook that is another’s bane;
I fear no foe, nor fawn on friend,
I loathe not life nor dread mine end.

My wealth is health and perfect ease;
And conscience clear my chief defence;
I never seek by bribes to please,
Nor by desert to give offence,
Thus do I live, thus will I die:
Would all did so as well as I!


Confirmed with Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 78-79.

Quoted by Claudius in the poem "Ein Lied" (also titled "Zufriedenheit")


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. I joy not in no earthly bliss [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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I joy not in no earthly bliss,
I force not Crœsus’ wealth a straw;
For care I know not what it is
I fear not Fortune’s fatal law:
My mind is such as may not move
For beauty bright nor force of love.

I wish but what I have at will,
I wander not to seek for more;
I like the plain, I climb no hill;
In greatest storms I sit on shore
And laugh at them that toil in vain
To get what must be lost again.

I kiss not where I wish to kill;
I feign not love where most I hate;
I break no sleep to win my will;
I wait not at the mighty’s gate;
I scorn no poor, nor fear no rich;
I feel no want, nor have too much.

The court and cart I like nor loath;
Extremes are counted worst of all;
The golden mean between them both
Doth surest sit and fears no fall.
This is my choice: for why? I find
No wealth is like the quiet mind.


Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, page 43.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. What pleasure have great princes [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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What pleasure have great princes
More dainty to their choice
Than herdsmen wild, who careless
In quiet life rejoice,
And fortune’s fate not fearing
Sing sweet in summer morning?

Their dealings plain and rightful,
Are void of all deceit;
They never know how spiteful,
It is to kneel and wait
On favourite presumptuous
Whose pride is vain and sumptuous.

All day their flocks each tendeth;
At night, they take their rest;
More quiet than who sendeth
His ship into the East,
Where gold and pearl are plenty;
But getting, very dainty.

For lawyers and their pleading,
They ’steem it not a straw;
They think that honest meaning
Is of itself a law:
Whence conscience judgeth plainly,
They spend no money vainly.

O happy who thus liveth!
Not caring much for gold;
With clothing which sufficeth
To keep him from the cold.
Though poor and plain his diet
Yet merry it is, and quiet.


Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 153-154.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Farewell, false Love, the oracle of lies [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Farewell, false Love, the oracle of lies,
  A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy from whom all cares arise,
  A bastard vile, a beast with rage possest;
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
  In all effects contrary unto reason.

A poison’d serpent cover’d all with flowers,
  Mother of sighs and murderer of repose;
A sea of sorrows from whence are drawn such showers
  As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
  A gilded hook that holds a poison’d bait.

A fortress foiled which Reason did defend,
  A Siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
  A raging cloud that runs before the wind;
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
  A goal of grief for which the wisest run.

A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
  A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
  An idle boy that sleeps in Pleasure’s lap;
A deep distrust of that which certain seems,
  A hope of that which Reason doubtful deems.


Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 24-25.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. The match that's made for just and true respects [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The match that's made for just and true respects,
With evenness both of years and parentage,
Of force must bring forth many good effects.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.

For where chaste love and liking sets the plant,
And concord waters with a firm good-will,
Of no good thing there can be any want.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.

Sound is the knot that Chastity hath tied,
Sweet is the music Unity doth make,
Sure is the store that Plenty doth provide.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.

Where Chasteness fails there Concord will decay,
Where Concord fleets there Plenty will decease,
Where Plenty wants there Love will wear away.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.

I, Chastity, restrain all strange desires;
I, Concord, keep the course of sound consent;
I, Plenty, spare and spend as cause requires.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.

Make much of us, all ye that married be;
Speak well of us, all ye that mind to be;
The time may come to want and wish all three.
        Pari jugo dulcis tractus.


Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, page 123.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. If women could be fair and never fond [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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If women could be fair and never fond,
  Or that their beauty might continue still,
I would not marvel though they made men bond
  By service long to purchase their goodwill:
But when I see how frail these creatures are,
I laugh that men forget themselves so far.

To mark what choice they make and how they change,
  How, leaving best, the worst they choose out still;
And how, like haggards wild, about they range,
  [And scorning reason follow after will!]1
Who would not shake such buzzards from the fist
And let them fly (fair fools!) which way they list?

Yet for our sport we fawn and flatter both,
  To pass the time when nothing else can please:
And train them on to yield by subtle oath
  The sweet content that gives such humour ease:
And then we say, when we their follies try,
“To play with fools, O, what a fool was I!”


View original text (without footnotes)
Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 52-53.
1 another edition (Oliphant) has "Scorning after reason to follow will."

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Who likes to love, let him take heed! [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Who likes to love, let him take heed!
  And wot you why?
Among the gods it is decreed
  That Love shall die;
And every wight that takes his part
Shall forfeit each a mourning heart.

The cause is this, as I have heard:
  A sort of dames,
Whose beauty he did not regard
  Nor secret flames,
Complained before the gods above
That gold corrupts the god of love.

The gods did storm to hear this news,
  And there they swore,
That sith he did such dames abuse
  He should no more
Be god of love, but that he should
Both die and forfeit all his gold.

His bow and shafts they took away
  Before his eyes,
And gave these dames a longer day
  For to devise
Who should them keep, and they be bound
That love for gold should not be found.

These ladies striving long, at last
  They did agree
To give them to a maiden chaste,
  Whom I did see,
Who with the same did pierce my breast:
Her beauty’s rare, and so I rest.


Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, pages 167-168.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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