by Edmund Spenser (1552 - 1599)

Tell me, ye merchants daughters, did ye...
Language: English 
Tell me, ye merchants daughters, did ye see
So fayre a creature in your towne before;
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she,
Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store? 
Her goodly eyes lyke saphyres shining bright,
Her forehead yvory white,
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips lyke cherries, charming men to byte,
Her brest like to a bowl of creame uncrudded, 
Her paps lyke lyllies budded,
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre,
And all her body like a pallace fayre,
Ascending up, with many a stately stayre,
To honors seat and chastities sweet bowre. 
Why stand ye still, ye virgins, in amaze,
Upon her so to gaze,
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing,
To which the woods did answer, and your eccho ring?

R. Vaughan Williams sets lines 1-4

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes from text:
Uncrudded, uncurdled.
In your towne. The marriage seems to have taken place in Cork, and we might infer from this passage that the heroine of the song was a merchant's daughter. C.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Tell me ye merchants' daughters did ye see
So fair a creature in your town before,
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she, 
Adorned with beauty's grace and virtue's store?


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This text (or a part of it) is used in a work
Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

Text added to the website: 2020-01-12 00:00:00
Last modified: 2020-01-12 11:35:34
Line count: 18
Word count: 135