From silent shades and the Elysian groves Where sad departed spirits mourn their loves From crystal streams and from that country where Jove crowns the fields with flowers all the year, Poor senseless Bess, cloth'd in her rags and folly, Is come to cure her lovesick melancholy. "Bright Cynthia kept her revels late While Mab, the Fairy Queen, did dance, And Oberon did sit in state When Mars at Venus ran his lance. In yonder cowslip lies my dear, Entomb'd in liquid gems of dew; Each day I'll water it with a tear, Its fading blossom to renew. For since my love is dead and all my joys are gone, Poor Bess for his sake A garland will make, My music shall be a groan. I'll lay me down and die within some hollow tree, The rav'n and cat, The owl and bat Shall warble forth my elegy. Did you not see my love as he pass'd by you? His two flaming eyes, if he comes nigh you, They will scorch up your hearts: Ladies beware ye, Les he should dart a glance that may ensnare ye! Hark! Hark! I hear old Charon bawl, His boat he will no longer stay, And furies lash their whips and call: Come, come away, come, come away. Poor Bess will return to the place whence she came, Since the world is so mad she can hope for no cure. For love's grown a bubble, a shadow, a name, Which fools do admire and wise men endure. Cold and hungry am I grown. Ambrosia will I feed upon, Drink Nectar still and sing." Who is content, Does all sorrow prevent? And Bess in her straw, Whilst free from the law, In her thoughts is as great, great as a king.
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- by Anonymous / Unidentified Author [author's text not yet checked 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 Henry Purcell (1658/9 - 1695), "From silent shades", alternate title: "Bess of Bedlam", subtitle: "Mad Bess", Z. 370 (c1682), published 1683, in Orpheus Britannicus, Vol. I. [text verified 1 time]
- by Michael Tippett (1905 - 1998), "From silent shades", subtitle: "Mad Bess", note: this is a realization of a Purcell song. [text verified 1 time]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 42
Word count: 296