Four Shakespeare Songs

Song Cycle by Betty Roe (b. 1930)

Word count: 404

1. Sigh no more [sung text checked 1 time]

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
[ One foot in sea and one on shore;
To one thing constant never. ]1
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no more,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
[ The fraud of men was ever so
Since summer first was leavy. ]1
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny;
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

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1 Lines reversed in version set by Fisher

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. Come away, death [sung text checked 1 time]

[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

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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

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?]

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The willow song [sung text not yet checked]

Desdemona
 The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
 Sing all a green willow:
 Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
 Sing willow, willow, willow:
 The fresh streams ran by her, and murmur'd her moans;
 Sing willow, willow, willow;
 Her salt tears fell from her, and soften'd the stones;

 [Lay by these:--]1

 Sing willow, willow, willow;

 [Prithee, hie thee; he'll come anon:--]1

 Sing all a green willow [must be my garland.]2

 [Sing all a green willow;]3

 [Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve,-]4

 [Nay, that's not next.--Hark! who is't that knocks? 

Emilia:
 It's the wind.]1

Desdemona:
 [Sing willow, willow, willow,]3
 [I call'd my love false love; but what said he then? 
 Sing willow, willow, willow:
 If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men!]4
 [Sing willow, willow, willow,]3

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1 not set by Fortner, Korngold, Parry, Vaughan Williams
2 Korngold: "my garland must be"
3 added by Korngold
4 not set by Parry, Vaughan Williams; Fortner: "I'd called my love false love, but what did he say? / Sing willow, willow willow,/ If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men!"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Orpheus with his lute [sung text not yet checked]

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.

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

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

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry