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Five Elizabethan Songs (The Elizas)

Word count: 439

Song Cycle by Ivor (Bertie) Gurney (1890 - 1937)

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1. Orpheus [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): DUT FIN FRE GER GER GER SWE

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Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:	

To his music, plants and flowers
Ever [sprung]1; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.

In sweet music is such art:
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.


View original text (without footnotes)
Quoted in Shakespeare's Henry VIII, Act III scene 1
1 Greene: "rose"; Blitzstein: "sprang"

Submitted by Ted Perry

2. Tears [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Julia Hamann) , "Tränen", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Weep you no more, sad fountains;
  What need [you]1 flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
  Heaven's sun doth gently waste!
    But my sun's heavenly eyes
      View not your weeping,
      That now lies sleeping,
    [Softly now, softly]2 lies
        Sleeping.

Sleep is a reconciling,
  A rest that peace begets;
Doth not the sun rise smiling
  When fair at [e'en]3 he sets?
    Rest you, then, rest, sad eyes!
      Melt not in weeping,
      While she lies sleeping,
    [Softly now, softly]2 lies
        Sleeping.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 van Dieren: "ye"
2 van Dieren, Holst, Moeran: "Softly, now softly"
3 Parry: "eve"; Moeran, Quilter, van Dieren: "even"; Holst: "ev'n"

Submitted by Ted Perry

3. Under the greenwood tree [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): DUT FIN FRE GER GER GER

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  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Mark de Vries) , "Onder het loofdak", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Paavo Cajander)
  • FRE French (Français) (François Pierre Guillaume Guizot)
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Julia Hamann) , "Unterm Baum im Maienwald", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And [turn]1 [his]2 merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleas'd with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

[ ... ]

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1 Quilter: "tune"
2 Korngold: "the"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Sleep [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER SPA

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Sommeil", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Julia Hamann) , "Schlaf", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (José Miguel Llata) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Come, Sleep, and with thy sweet deceiving
Lock me in delight awhile;
Let some pleasing [dreams]1 beguile
All my fancies; that from thence
[I may feel]2 an influence
All my powers of care bereaving.

Though but a shadow, but a sliding,
Let me know some little joy!
We that suffer long annoy
Are contented with a thought
Through an idle fancy wrought:
O let my joys have some abiding!


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1 Gurney: "dream"
2 Warlock: "There may steal"

Submitted by Ted Perry

5. Spring [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Julia Hamann) , "Frühling", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the [shepherds pipe]1 all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Spring! The sweet Spring!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Argento: "shepherd pipes"

Submitted by Ted Perry

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