Four Shakespeare Songs

Song Cycle by David Werner Amram (b. 1930)

Word count: 309

1. Who is Sylvia? [sung text not yet checked]

Who is Silvia? what is she?
That all our Swaines commend her?
Holy, faire, and wise is she.
The heavens such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.

Is she kinde as she is faire?
For beauty lives with kindnesse:
Love doth to her eyes repaire,
To helpe him of his blindnesse:
And being help'd, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia, let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortall thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling.
To her let us Garlands bring.

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (L. A. J. Burgersdijk)
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Kuka on Silvia?", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "À Silvia", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Juan Henríquez Concepción) , "¿Quién es Silvia?", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Confirmed with Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Published according to the True Originall Copies. London. Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount. 1623 (Facsimile from the First Folio Edition, London: Chatto and Windus, Piccadilly. 1876), page 33 of the Comedies.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

2. Take, o take those lips away  [sung text not yet checked]

Take, o take those lips away,
That so sweetly [were]1 forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights [that]2 do mislead the morn:
But my kisses bring again;
Seals of love, [but]3 seal'd in vain, sealed in vain.

Hide, o hide those hills of snow
that thy frozen bosom wears,
On whose tops the pinks that grow
are yet of those that April wears;
But first set my poor heart free,
Bound in those icy chains by thee.

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (L. A. J. Burgersdijk)
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Paavo Cajander)
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sarah L. Weller) , "Nimm, so nimm doch Deine Lippen fort", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • POL Polish (Polski) (Jan Kasprowicz) , "Śpiew Pacholęcia", Warsaw, first published 1907

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: quoted by John Fletcher, in Bloody Brother, 1639 and by William Shakespeare, in Measure for Measure, Act IV, scene 1, c1604 (just one stanza)
1 Bishop: "are"
2 Bishop: "which"
3 Bishop: "tho'"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Lullaby [sung text not yet checked]

You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.

Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
[Never harm,
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.]1

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence!
[Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.

Philomel, with melody, etc.]2

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 moved to the end by Křenek; moved to the beginning by Blitzstein (see text below).
2 omitted by Křenek.
Text as set by Blitzstein (courtesy of Kyle Degraff):
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm, Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.

You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.

Philomele, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby.
Lulla, lulla, lullaby,
Lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Lullaby.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Ophelia's song  [sung text not yet checked]

And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead:
Go to thy death-bed:
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll:
He is gone, [he is gone,]1
And we [cast away moan]2:
God [ha']3 mercy on his soul!
[And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi' ye.]4

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View original text (without footnotes)

These words are sung by Ophelia in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, but they are probably not by Shakespeare.

1 omitted by White.
2 Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "moan as we're cast away"
3 Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "have"
4 omitted by White; Castelnuovo-Tedesco: "And on the souls of all good Christians, I pray God. God be with you."

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]