My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, My crop of corn is but a field of tares, And all my good is but vain hope of gain; My life is fled, and yet I saw no sun; And now I live, and now my life is done. [My tale was heard, and yet it was not told; My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green; My youth is spent and yet I am not old; I saw the world and yet I was not seen; My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun; And now I live, and now my life is done.]1 I sought my death and found it in the womb, I looked for life and saw it was a shade, I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb, And now I die and now I was but made; My glass is full, and now my glass is run; And now I live, and yet my life is done.
J. Mundy sets stanzas 1-2
About the headline (FAQ)According to Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, ed. by A. H. Bullen, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, page 80, Mundy replaces the second stanza with the following:
The Spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung! The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves be green! My youth is gone, and yet I am but young! I saw the World and yet I was not seen! My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun! And now I live, and now my life is done.
- by Chidiock Tichbourne (1558? - 1586), "On the Eve of His Execution", subtitle: "Written the night before he was beheaded", written 1586 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by Richard Rodney Bennett (1936 - 2012), "Written on the eve of execution", from Tenebrae, no. 4 [ sung text checked 1 time]
- by Charles Gounod (1818 - 1893), "Chidiock Tichborne", subtitle: "Old Ballad", CG. 364 (1873) [medium voice and piano], London, Goddard & Co. [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
- by John Mundy (1550 - 1630), "My prime of youth is but a frost of cares", published 1594, stanzas 1-2, from Songs and Psalms [ sung text checked 1 time]
- by Robert Still (1910 - 1971), "Awaiting Execution" [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:
- Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Gisbert, Freiherr von Vincke (1813 - 1892) ; composed by Joachim Raff.
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 18
Word count: 180