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Six by Four

Word count: 604

Song Cycle by John Linton Gardner (b. 1917)

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1. Lawn as white as driven snow [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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


Lawn as white as driven snow;
Cyprus black as e'er was crow;
Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
Masks for faces and for noses;
Bugle bracelet, necklace amber,
Perfume for a lady's chamber;
Golden quoifs and stomachers,
For my lads to give their dears:
Pins and poking-sticks of steel,
What maids lack from head to heel:
Come buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
Buy lads, or else your lasses cry: 
Come buy.


Text as set by Blitzstein (courtesy of Kyle Degraff):
Lawn as white as driven snow,
White as snow, driven snow;
Cyprus black as e'er was crow,
Black as e’er was crow:
Come buy of me, come, buy.

Gloves as sweet as damask roses,
Sweet as damask roses,
Masks for faces and for noses,
And for noses;
Come lads, buy of me, come, buy.

Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle.
Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle.

Bugle bracelet, necklace amber,
Bracelet, necklace amber;
Perfume for a lady's chamber,
For a lady’s chamber;
Come buy of me, come, buy.

Golden quoifs and stomachers,
For my lads to give their dears;
Pins and poking-sticks of steel,
What maids lack from head to heel.

Come, lads, buy, lads;
Come, lads, buy, lads;
Buy, or else your lasses cry.
Come, buy, buy, buy, buy.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. When icicles hang by the wall [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FIN FRE GER

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When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipt and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-who! 
Tu-whit! Tu-who! -- A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-who! 
Tu-whit! Tu-who! -- A merry note!
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


Submitted by Clive Robinson

3. Over hill, over dale [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE ITA

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Per colline e per valli", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Over hill, over dale,
  Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Over park, over pale,
  Thorough flood, thorough fire
I do wander everywhere.

Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Come away, death [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): DUT DUT FIN FRE GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GER ITA NOR NOR SWE

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Jan Jonk) , "Kom toch gauw, kom toch gauw, dood", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Paavo Cajander)
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (David Paley) , "Komm herbei, komm herbei, Tod", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Paolo Montanari) , "Vieni, o morte", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • NOR Norwegian (Bokmål) (Marianne Beate Kielland) , "Kom hit, kom nå hit, død", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


[Come away, come away, death]1,
  And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
  I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
  [O prepare it!]2
My part of death, no one so true
  Did share it.

Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
  On my black coffin let there be [strown]3;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
  My poor corpse, where my bones shall be [thrown]4:
[A thousand, [thousand]5 sighs to save,]6
  Lay me, O where
[Sad]5 true lover never find my grave,
  [To weep there!]7


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Fortner: "Death, come away, come away"
2 Dring: "Come prepare it"
3 Leguerney: "thrown"; Wilkinson: "strewn"
4 Leguerney: "strown"
5 omitted by Korngold
6 omitted by Argento.
7 Amram: "did share it." [mistake?]

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. When daisies pied [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FIN FRE FRE GER GER GER GER NOR

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

  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Kevät", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (François-Victor Hugo)
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Anonymous/Unidentified Artist) , "Lied. Der Frühling", first published 1870
  • NOR Norwegian (Bokmål) (Arild Bakke) , "Når spraglet tusenfryd", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When daisies pied and violets blue
 [And lady-smocks all silver white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,]1
  Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo, then on ev'ry tree
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
  Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: o word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
  And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
[When]2 turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
  And maidens bleach their summer [smocks]3,
The cuckoo, then on ev'ry tree
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
  Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: o word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stravinsky: reversed.
2 Arne: "And"
3 Arne: "frocks"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. When that I was a little boy [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): DAN FIN FRE GER NOR SWE

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


When that I was and a little tiny boy,
[With]1 hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
[With]1 hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain it raineth every day.

[ But when I came, alas! to wive,
[With]1 hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.]2

[ But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.]3

A great while ago the world [begun]4,
[With]1 hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Amram: "With a"
2 Omitted by Amram.
3 set only by Baxter.
4 Amram: "began"

Submitted by Ted Perry

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