Norman Harold Hepple.

Lyrical forms in English; online

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not only preserved but also enhanced in value. Burns and
Moore, for example, fitted many of their songs to tunes already
in existence, the one to "Scottish Airs" and the other to
"Irish Melodies," and it is now well known that Lady Anne
Lindsay wrote Auld Robin Gray, and Lady Nairn many of
her songs, to replace words too coarse to be in accordance with
the requirements of modern taste. It is a literary and musical
curiosity that Lady Nairn's sentimental Land o* the Leal com-
posed in this fashion was set to the same melody as Burns'
martial Scots, Wha Hae.

Thought of in conjunction with the fact that, since a
vocal song is designed for singing, the musician presumably in
the best position to know what is most suitable for this purpose
has a right to dictate to the song-poet, the above examples
may incline us to the opinion that, of the two parts of a song,
words and melody, the latter is the more important, a view
that seems to gain support when we remember songs like
our own National Anthem, which have very indifferent
words and yet have survived by reason of good tunes.
It would not, however, be impossible, though perhaps more
difficult, to adduce examples of songs which owe their force
and popularity more to their words than to the quality of their
melodies. The truth is that the important part played by
association in the popularising of a song can seldom be properly



assessed, and so long as this is unknown it is impossible to say
whether any particular song owes more to its words or to its
melody. We have only to remember songs like Home, Sweet
Home or Lochaber No More to judge of the added force given
to a song by its associations.

It will have been gathered that a song-writer composing
poems to be sung has, other things being equal, a more difficult
task to perform than one who is unrestricted by the exigencies
of vocalisation, and a summary of the limitations imposed upon
him will incidentally furnish the means of distinguishing between
the two classes of songs.

I. In the first place he is much restricted in his choice of
words, the best songs being those in singing which the mouth
is well opened. In pronouncing vowel-sounds like ee in seen,
ay in pain, i in pin, the teeth are brought close together, the lips
stretched over them, and the opening of the mouth takes the
form of a narrow slit: this makes vocalisation very difficult.
So that words intended to be sung should be composed so far
as possible of open vowel-sounds like a in father, aw in fall, oh
in slow, o in not. Close vowels cannot, of course, be wholly
avoided, but an examination of songs like Where the bee sucks
(No. n) and The Last Rose of Summer (No. 61) will show how
largely open sounds predominate.

A similar rule holds good in the case of consonant-sounds
like f, v, p, q, w, s, z, which practically close the mouth and
which should be avoided as far as possible. When they are used
they should be followed immediately by an open vowel, as in
y^nd, div/ne, so\A, so that the contracted organs may be at once
released. The liquids /, m, n and r, are favourites with song-
writers, because of their smoothness and soft flowing quality.
In regard to the first of these one remembers Leigh Hunt's
remark on the lines in Christabel,

"Her gent/e limbs did she undress,
And /ay down in her /ove/iness."

that "the very smoothness and gentleness of the limbs is in the
series of /'s." This suggests another rule universally observed
in the best vocal songs, viz. that all hissing, harsh, or guttural
sounds which detract from the tonic beauty of a song must be



2. Again, in a song written for music there are restric-
tions with regard to metre. In a "literary" song-lyric there is
a reasonable license in this matter, but if a song is to be sung,
the fall of the accents must be perfectly regular, the metre firm
and smooth, and, if the words be written in conjunction with
the melody, the open vowels and the long notes should fall

Many of the songs of Burns, Moore, and Dibdin owe their
success to the careful observance of these principles, and an
analysis of the metres and vocabulary of their songs, on the lines
indicated, will well repay the student.

3. The song-poet is also limited in several ways as regards
the subject-matter of a song designed for singing. For instance,
if the poem be written in stanzas there ought to be a general
correspondence and similarity of sentiment in the different
stanzas, for without this there may be a discordance between
words and music, since the same melody has often to serve as
the musical expression of each stanza in the song. To show
how familiar Shakespeare was with this restriction, the two
stanzas of his song, "Blow, blow, thou winter wind," are printed
here side by side :

I 2

" Blow, blow, thou winter wind " Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky

Thou art not so unkind Thou dost not bite so nigh

As man's ingratitude; As benefits forgot;

Thy tooth is not so keen Though thou the waters warp,

Because thou art not seen, Thy sting is not so sharp

Although thy breath be rude. As friend remember'd not.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho!" etc. Heigh-ho!" etc.

The parallel development of a similar sentiment in the two
stanzas will readily be perceived and it is clear that a melody
composed to fit the first stanza will also be for the most part in
perfect accord with the second.

Again, although a vocal song should always embody some
adequate and worthy sentiment or thought, this should be
slight, direct, and at once apparent. It is because Shelley's
lyrics, so delicate and intricate in their imagery, so subtle and
elusive in their thought, do not comply with this condition,
that they are with very few exceptions, quite unfitted to be sung.
The more complex ideas and the finer, subtler shades of feeling,

H. B 17


which can be expressed easily and fully in poetry written to be
read, cannot be admitted into poetry which is to be sung, for
the conditions under which poetry is thus read and heard
respectively are obviously very different. A reader has the
poem in print before him ; he may, if he choose, read it a dozen
times and ponder it as deeply and as long as he pleases, until
eventually he possesses all that it has to give. But this is not
so with the listener^ who merely hears the quickly uttered
words as they are being sung, and, at a time when half of his
attention is directed towards the music, has his only chance of
grasping their significance. Necessarily, therefore, the subject-
matter of verse written for the voice is limited in its scope to
broad and direct lines of thought and to simple emotions. This,
with the other restrictions noted above, will serve as a means
of identifying the vocal song-lyric as distinct from the "literary"


i. Somer is yeomen in

Somer is yeomen in,

Loud sing, cuckoo ;
Groweth seed and blometh mead

And springeth the wood new.

Sing, cuckoo !
Ewe bleateth after lamb,

Loweth after calf coo ;
Bullock sterteth,
Buck verteth ;

Merrily sing, cuckoo,

Cuckoo, cuckoo !

Well singes thou ? cuckoo,

Nor cease thou never noo.




2. Cristemas

Lett no man cum into this hall,
Grome, page, nor yet marshall,
But that sum sport he bring with all ;
For now is the time of Cristemas !

If that he say he can not sing,
Some oder sport then lett him bring,
That it may please at this festing ;
For now is the time of Cristemas !

If he say he can nought do,
Then for my love aske him no mo,
But to the stokkes then lett him go ;
For now is the time of Cristemas !


3. Begone, Dull Care !

Begone, dull care ! I prithee begone from me !

Begone, dull care ! you and I shall never agree.

Long time hast thou been tarrying here and fain thou wouldst

me kill,
But, P faith, dull care, thou never shalt have thy will.

Too much care will make a young man turn grey,

And too much care will turn an old man to clay.

My wife shall dance and I will sing, and merrily pass the day,

For I hold it one of the wisest things to drive dull care away.


B2 19


4. Hence, Care

Sing we and chant it
While love doth grant it.
Fa la la !

Not long youth lasteth
And old age hasteth.

Fa la la !

Now is best leisure
To take our pleasure.

Fa la la !

All things invite us
Now to delight us.

Fa la la !

Hence care be packing,
No mirth be lacking.

Fa la la !

Let spare no treasure
To live in pleasure.

Fa la la !


5. Winter

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-whit !

Tu-whoo ! A merry note !

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.



When all about 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-whit !

Tu-whoo ! A merry note !

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


6. Who is Sylvia?

Who is Sylvia ? what is she,

That all our swains commend her ?

Holy, fair, and wise is she ;

The heaven such grace did lend her,

That she might admired be.

Is she kind as she is fair ?

For beauty lives with kindness;
Love doth to her eyes repair,

To help him of his blindness,
And, being help'd, inhabits there.

Then to Sylvia let us sing,

That Sylvia is excelling ;
She excels each mortal thing

Upon the dull earth dwelling :
To her let us garlands bring.




7. Two Songs from A Midsummer-Night's Dream

(1) The Fairy Life

Over hill, over dale,

Thorough bush, thorough brier,

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 j
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.


(2) A Fairy Lullaby

Ye spotted snakes with double tongue,

Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen ;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,

Come not near our fairy-queen.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby ;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.
Never harm,
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh ;
So, goodnight, with lullaby.

Weaving spiders, come not here ;

Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence !
Beetles black, approach not near ;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby j
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.




8. Two Madrigals

(f) "Tell me where is fancy bred"

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head ?
How begot, how nourished ?

Reply, reply.

It is engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed ; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.

Let us all ring fancy's knell ;
I'll begin it, Ding, dong, bell.
Ding, dong, bell.


(2) Youth and Age

Crabbed Age and Youth

Cannot live together :

Youth is full of pleasance,

Age is full of care ;

Youth like summer morn,

Age like winter weather,

Youth like summer brave,

Age like winter bare :

Youth is full of sport,

Age's breath is short,

Youth is nimble, Age is lame :

Youth is hot and cold,

Youth is wild, and Age is tame :

Age, I do abhor thee,

Youth, I do adore thee ;

O ! my Love, my Love is young !

Age, I do defy thee

O sweet shepherd, hie thee,

For methinks thou stay'st too long.



9. A Morning Song

Hark ! hark ! the lark at heaven's gate sings,

And Phoebus 'gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs

On chaliced flowers that lies ;
And winking Mary-buds begin

To ope their golden eyes :
With every pretty thing that is,

My lady sweet, arise :
Arise, arise.


10. Ingratitude

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude ;

Thy tooth is not so keen

Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly :

Then heigh-ho, the holly !

This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh

As benefits forgot :
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remember'd not.

Heigh-ho ! sing, heigh-ho ! unto the green holly :
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly !
This life is most jolly.



n. Three Songs from The Tempest

(1) A Fairy Dance

Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands :
Courtsied when you have, and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there ;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Hark! hark!
The watch-dogs bark :


Hark, hark ! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow !


(2) Sea-Magic

Full fathom five thy father lies ;

Of his bones are coral made ;
Those are pearls that were his eyes :

Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell :
Hark ! now I hear them, Ding-dong, bell.


(3) Elfin Life

Where the bee sucks, there suck I :
In a cowslip's bell I lie ;
There I couch, when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough !



12. The Man of Upright Life

The man of life upright,

Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds

Or thoughts of vanity ;

The man whose silent days

In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude

Nor sorrow discontent :

That man needs neither towers

Nor armour for defence,
Nor secret vaults to fly

From thunder's violence : *"

He only can behold

With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep

And terrors of the skies.

Thus scorning all the cares

That fate or fortune brings,

He makes the heaven his book,
His wisdom heavenly things ;

Good thoughts his only friends,
His wealth a well-spent age,

The earth his sober inn
And quiet pilgrimage.


13. The Happy Life

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another's will ;

Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill !



Whose passions not his masters are ;

Whose soul is still prepared for death,

Untied unto the world by care

Of public fame or private breath ;

Who envies none that chance doth raise

Or vice ; who never understood
How deepest wounds are given by praise ;

Nor rules of state, but rules of good ;

Who hath his life from rumours freed ;

Whose conscience is his strong retreat j
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,

Nor ruin make accusers great ;

Who God doth late and early pray

More of His grace than gifts to lend ;

And entertains the harmless day

With a well-chosen book or friend ;

This man is freed from servile bands

Of hope to rise, or fear to fall ;
Lord of himself, though not of lands ;

And having nothing, yet hath all.


14. Content

Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?

O sweet content !
Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed ?

O punishment !

Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vexd
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers ?
O sweet content ! O sweet, O sweet content !

Work apace, apace, apace, apace ;

Honest labour bears a lovely face ;
Then hey nonny nonny, hey nonny nonny !

2 7


Canst drink the waters of the crispe'd spring ?

O sweet content !
Swimm'st thou in wealth, yet sink'st in thine own tears ?

O punishment !

Then he that patiently want's burden bears
No burden bears, but is a king, a king !
O sweet content ! O sweet, O sweet content !

Work apace, apace, apace, apace ;

Honest labour bears a lovely face ;
Then hey nonny nonny, hey nonny nonny !


15. A Lullaby

Weep you no more, sad fountains ;

What need you flow so fast ?
Look how the snowy mountains

Heaven's sun doth gently waste.
But my sun's heavenly eyes,

View not your weeping,

That now lies sleeping,
Softly, now softly lies


Sleep is a reconciling,

A rest that peace begets ;
Doth not the sun rise smiling

When fair at even he sets ?
Rest you, then, rest, sad eyes,

Melt not in weeping,

While she lies sleeping,
Softly, now softly lies





16. To Celia

Drink to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine ; '.-
Or leave a kiss but in the cup, ^

And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise

Doth ask a drink divine ; -{^
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,

I would not change for thine, fa

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

Not so much honouring thee {?
As giving it a hope that there I

It could not wither'd be ; )j*
But thou thereon didst only breathe, 0U

And sent'st it back to me ; ty
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,

Not of itself, but thee ! {?


17. Hymn to Diana

Queen and Huntress, chaste and fair,

Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair,

State in wonted manner keep :
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.

Earth, let not thy envious shade

Dare itself to interpose ;
Cynthia's shining orb was made

Heaven to clear when day did close :
Bless us then with wished sight,
Goddess excellently bright.



Lay thy bow of pearl apart

And thy crystal-shining quiver ;
Give unto the flying hart

Space to breathe, how short soever :
Thou that mak'st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright !


18. Song : Pack, Clouds, Away

Pack, clouds, away, and welcome day,

With night we banish sorrow ;
Sweet air, blow soft, mount, larks, aloft

To give my Love good-morrow !
Wings from the wind to please her mind,

Notes from the lark I'll borrow ;
Bird, prune thy wing, nightingale, sing,

To give my Love good-morrow;

To give my Love good-morrow
Notes from them both I'll borrow.

Wake from thy nest, Robin-red-breast,

Sing, birds, in every furrow ;
And from each hill, let music shrill

Give my fair Love good-morrow !
Blackbird and thrush in every bush,

Stare, linnet, and cock-sparrow !
You pretty elves, amongst yourselves

Sing my fair Love good-morrow ;
To give my Love good-morrow
Sing, birds, in every furrow !



19. Cherry-Ripe

There is a garden in her face

Where roses and white lilies blow;

A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do grow;

There cherries grow that none may buy,
Till Cherry-Ripe themselves do cry.

Those cherries fairly do enclose

Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,

They look like rose-buds fill'd with snow:
Yet them no peer nor prince may buy,

Till Cherry-Ripe themselves do cry.

Her eyes like angels watch them still;

Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat'ning with piercing frowns to kill

All that approach with eye or hand
These sacred cherries to come nigh,

Till Cherry-ripe themselves do cry !


20. Virtue

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright !

The bridal of the earth and sky,
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night,

For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,

Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,

My music shows ye have your closes,
And all must die.


Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives ;

But though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.


21. A Song

Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph, that livest unseen

Within thy airy shell,
By slow Meander's margent green,
And in the violet-embroider'd vale
Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well :
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,

Tell me but where,

Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere!
So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heaven's harmonies!


22. Song of a Wood-Spirit. (From Arcades)

O'er the smooth enamell'd green
Where no print of step hath been,

Follow me as I sing

And touch the warbled string:
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof,

Follow me;

I will bring you where she sits,
Clad in splendour as befits

Her deity.
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.




23. To Daffodils

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see

You haste away so soon :
As yet the early-rising sun

Has not attained his noon.
Stay, stay,

Until the hasting day
Has run

But to the even-song;
And, having prayed together, we

Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you;

We have as short a spring,
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or anything.

We die,
As your hours do, and dry


Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.


24. Blossoms

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,

Why do ye fall so fast?

Your date is. not so past,
But you may stay yet here awhile

To blush and gently smile,
And go at last.

What, were ye born to be

An hour or half's delight,

And so to bid good-night?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth

Merely to show your worth,
And lose you quite.

H. C 33


But you are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave :
And after they have shown their pride
Like you, awhile, they glide
Into the grave.


25. Cherry- Ripe

Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones ! Come and buy !
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer, There
Where my Julia's lips do smile;
There's the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.


26. Go, lovely Rose !

Go, lovely Rose !
Tell her, that wastes her time and me,

That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that's young
And shuns to have her graces spied,

That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired:

Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.



Then die ! that she
The common fate of all things rare

May read in thee :
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!


27. Going to the Wars

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,

That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind

To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,

The first foe in the field,
And with a stronger faith embrace

A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such

As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,

Loved I not Honour more.


28. Constancy

I cannot change, as others do,

Though you unjustly scorn,
Since that poor swain, that sighs for you,

For you alone was born.
No, Phyllis, no, your heart to move

A surer way I'll try,
And, to revenge my slighted love,

Will still love on and die.

C2 35


When, kill'd with grief, Amyntas lies,

And you to mind shall call
The sighs that now unpitied rise,

The tears that vainly fall,
That welcome hour, that ends this smart,

Will then begin your pain;
For such a faithful tender heart

Can never break in vain.


29. Absent from Thee

Absent from thee, I languish still!

Then ask me not when I return :
The straying fool 'twill plainly kill

To wish all day, all night to mourn.

Dear, from thine arms then let me fly,
That my fantastic mind may prove

The torments it deserves to try,

That tears my fix'd heart from my love.

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