Blame Not My Lute

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Program: #10-12   Air Date: Mar 15, 2010

After performing with the brilliant lutenist Ronn McFarlane for over 25 years, we finally commit to disc our program of Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry and drama about the lute accompanied by readings; the national broadcast premiere. Liner Notes Blame Not My Lute: Elizabethan Lute Music & Poetry In the liner notes for this tribute to the lute, Millennium of Music host Robert Aubry Davis writes about lute-inspired Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry and theater. ON SALE NOW! CDs are $12, plus shipping and handling. To order an advance copy, e-mail: [email protected] Please note that proceeds will support Millennium of Music.


1. Anon.: Bonny Sweet Boy--We begin with Ronn's performance of a popular Elizabethan song set for lute solo. While this version comes from one of the Matthew Holmes lute books collected at Cambridge, Thomas Robinson published a version in his 1603 The School of Musicke (where he credits himself with the composition) as “Bony sweet boy.” Robinson was a lute instructor at the court of Denmark before Dowland arrived there in 1598, and arranged some Dowland pieces for that 1603 book, including one we hear on this program (Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home). The tune itself acquired the lyric you can still hear sung today ("I once loved a boy and a bonny sweet boy").

2. Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542): Blame not my lute-- The time of Henry VIII will always be fodder for film and theater, and the passion and color of the lives of characters like Wyatt show why. His father's service with Henry led young Thomas to be given posts in various lands; it was on the 1527 journey to petition Pope Clement VII to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon that he began the translations of Petrarch, which led to the sonnet form being brought to England. Even as he was dedicating to Catherine a Plutarch essay he had translated, he had fallen under the spell of Anne Boleyn. Wyatt had already separated from his wife Elizabeth Brooke who he had married in 1521 (she much later in the story was rumored to become the sixth wife of Henry after Catherine Howard was executed), and the hard evidence of the great poem “Whoso list to hunt” which warns all comers to stay away from the King's new favorite, is matched by later accounts that he had confessed to Henry that she was indeed his lover and not the right stuff to be a queen. Perhaps because Wyatt had the protection of Thomas Cromwell he was not executed in 1536 when the seven “suitors” of Anne were tried and killed-but he was almost certainly witness to Anne's beheading at the Tower of London on May 19 of that year. And, when Cromwell himself was killed in 1540, so went Wyatt's last shield against Henry's wrath. The accusation of treason in 1541 was only removed when Catherine Howard interceded, and her death left little for Wyatt at court. Perhaps it was a courtly self-inflicted death that gave the poet his last fever “contracted by hard riding” on a last diplomatic assignment for Henry. He was in his late 30s. It is fitting that this tall, rugged, passionate and magnetic figure begins and ends these readings. The music used is one of the only two or three anonymous settings we can attach to Wyatt's work. Blame not my lute, for he must sound
Of this or that as liketh me;
For lack of wit the lute is bound
To give such tunes as pleaseth me.
Though my songs be somewhat strange,
And speak such words as touch thy change,
Blame not my lute.

My lute, alas, doth not offend,
Though perforce he must agree
To sound such tunes as I intend
To sing to them that heareth me;
Then though my songs be somewhat plain
And toucheth some that use to feign,
Blame not my lute.

My lute and strings may not deny,
But as I strike they must obey;
Break not them then so wrongfully,
But wreak* thyself some wiser way; *carry out; inflict
For though the songs which I indite* *write
Do quit thy change with rightful spite,
Blame not my lute.

Spite asketh spite and changing change,
And falsed faith must needs be known,
The fault so great, the case so strange,
Of right it must abroad be blown.
Then since by thine own desart* *desert; what one deserves
My songs do tell how true thou art,
Blame not my lute.

Blame but the self that has misdone
And well deserved to have blame;
Change thou thy way, so evil begun,
And then my lute shall sound that same;
But if till then my fingers play
By thy desart their wonted way,
Blame not my lute.

Farewell, unknown, for though thou break
My strings in spite with great disdain,
Yet I have found out for thy sake
Strings for to string my lute again;
And if perchance this foolish rhyme
Do make thee blush at any time
Blame not my lute.

3. John Dowland: My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe --This relatively light piece showing the not-so-melancholic side of Dowland is an “almain” or allemande, a duple-time dance courtly French and English composers thought was au courant in Germany. While no German examples of the dance from Dowland's time have been passed down to us, we can reconstruct the dance itself from collections like Arbeau's famous Orchésographie.

4. John Dowland: Melancholy Galliard--The same dance source gives us the prescription for this, one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite dances (the head of the privy Chamber said she would “dance six or seven galliards of a morning”). It is an athletic dance of hopping and skipping, and only a person of Dowland's alleged temperament would take this bright work and make it of a darker hue. We wed it to one of the three Orphic references in the plays of Shakespeare, two of which are on the program. The mystical singer of Thrace who in Ovid pursues Eurydice to the very gates of hell had a powerful effect on the Renaissance imagination, and the transformative nature of his singing was appealing to that most music-loving of playwrights.

Shakespeare: Henry VIII, Act III, Scene 1. The Queen's apartments.

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, as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Every thing 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.

5. Anon.: Kemp's Jig--Will Kemp was not only the early clown in Shakespeare's plays but was a stockholder in the Lord Chamberlain's Men. When bet that he could not dance all the way from London to Norwich in ten days (a hundred pounds-a small fortune for an actor and clown), he not only did so, but made the 80-odd miles in nine days. His hilarious account of the journey, “The Nine Days Wonder,” was published in 1600; this purveyor of “mad jigges and merry jestes” proves why he was so beloved by his fellow players and evidently by the young Shakespeare himself. This work commemorates his famous journey, where he asks us to “Imagine…I am now setting from Lord Mayors, the houre about seaven, the morning gloomy, the company many, my hart merry”.

6. Anon.: Packington's Pound--Another wager-this time, Sir John Packington (a favorite of the Queen) bet _3,000 that he could swim from the bridge at Westminster to Greenwich Bridge--but (according to William Chapell) “ the good Queen, who had a particular tenderness for handsome fellows, would not permit Sir John to run the hazard of the trial.” The “pound” was a pond built by Sir John that encroached on a public road; when forced to remove it, he cut out a section so it would flood the property of the complaining locals.

7. Thomas Heywood (?1574-1641): A Woman Killed with Kindness--Like Wyatt a Cambridge student, Heywood became a lead dramatist for Queen Anne's and Lady Elizabeth's Men at the Red Bull and Cockpit theaters. While he claimed 200 plays, we do have a number in autograph, as well as his 1612 Apology for Actors, a great summation of all the arguments for the stage itself. A Woman Killed with Kindness-- played in 1603 at the end of Elizabeth's life--looks at a happy, upwardly mobile couple, John and Mary Frankford. He is kind and loving, and she is beautiful and accomplished, as evidenced by her skills as a lute player. There is a subplot involving her brother Sir Francis and his altercation with one Sir Charles (over a wager again!); Francis falls in love with Charles's sisters Susan, and they all reconcile over this dowerless match made for love alone. But in the main plot, an impoverished gentleman John had befriended and invited to the estate falls under the spell of Mary, and persuades her into an affair. When it is discovered, John chooses a most remarkable path. He collects everything that was Mary's, sends her to a country home a few miles away, and promises to keep her in perpetuity, with one condition: She may never see him again. As we take up this scene in Act V, Scene iii, John is making sure every last thing of Mary's is gone; he finds her most precious possession, and dispatches the servant Nicholas to take it to her:

FRANKFORD. Her lute! O God, upon this instrument
Her fingers have ran quick division,
Sweeter than that which now divides our hearts.
These frets have made me pleasant, that have now
Frets of my hearts strings made…
Oft hath she made this melancholy wood,
Now mute and dumb for her disastrous chance,
Speak sweetly many a note, sound many a strain
To her own ravishing voice; which being well strung,
What pleasant strange airs have they jointly rung!-
Post with it after her.-Now nothing's left;
Of her and hers I am at once bereft.

NICH. I'll ride and overtake her; do my message,
And come back again.

Enter NICK.

NICH. There.

MRS. F. I know the lute. Oft have I sung to thee;
We are both out of tune, both out of time…
I thank him; he is kind, and ever was.
All you that have true feeling of my grief,
That know my loss, and have relenting hearts,
Gird me about, and help me with your tears
To wash my spotted sins! My lute shall groan;
It cannot weep, but shall lament my moan.
[She plays.]
MRS. F. [TO NICHOLAS] If you return unto you master, say…
That you have seen me weep, wish myself dead….
Go break this lute upon my coach's wheel,
As the last music that I e'er shall make;
Not as my husband's gift, but my farewell
To all earth's joy; and so your master tell.

NICH. If I can for crying.

8. John Dowland: Lachrimae--Much has been written about this incomparable piece, published in those dark days just after Elizabeth's death in 1603, and dedicated to James's wife Anne of Denmark. Whether we can construct backwards with this difficult and gifted man to say his self-professed melancholy was a more clinical depression is not within the purview of what we attempt here. Later commentators have likened the set of pieces centering around this tearful motif to the late Beethoven quartets; suffice it to say that when we listen to those works, or these, we are gifted with music's window into our inmost primal self, born into this world weeping and alone.

9. Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i--You may remember that a rich gentleman of Padua, Baptista by name, is father to two daughters: Bianca, and the fiery Katharina. In our scene of this tale, Bianca's suitor Hortensio has disguised himself as a music teacher to “break” this daughter Kate to the lute. Petrucchio, who is most intrigued by the spirited lady, stands nearby:

BAP. What, will my daughter prove a good musician?

HOR. I think she'll sooner prove a soldier.
Iron may hold her, but never lutes.

BAP. Why, then thou canst not break her to the lute?

HOR. Why, no, for she hath broke the lute to me.
I did but tell her she mistook her frets
And bowed her hand to teach her fingering,
When, with a most impatient devilish spirit,
“Frets, you call these?” quoth she. “I'll fume with them!”
And with that word she struck me on the head,
And through the instrument my pate made way;
And there I stood amazed for a whole,
As on a pillory*, looking through the lute *the more severe version of the stocks While she did call me rascal fiddler wherein the prisoner was forced to stand
And twangling Jack, with twenty such vile terms,
As she studied to misuse me so.

PET. Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench.
I love her ten times more than e'er I did.
Oh, how I long to have some chat with her!

10. John Dowland: Mrs. Winter's Jump-One can over think the connections here-yes Mrs. Winter was probably Jane Ingleby, in-law of famed recusant Lord Vaux and mother of two of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, and this may be tied up with the various Catholic conversions and associations Dowland made in his quest for station. Or it could simply be a delightful dance tune dedicated to a bright and charming lady: the choice is yours.

11. Samuel Daniel (1562-1619): Like as the lute-He studied at Oxford, met the pastoral poet Guarini in Italy, published the sonnet cycle Delia before he was thirty, and his brother John was a lutenist and composer. The Romantics loved him (Wordsworth thought his language “pure and manly”), but in his own age Ben Jonson wrote that he was “a good Honest man…but no poet.” In post-Romantic collections, he was one of those “Silver Poets” of the second rank. Perhaps-but as evidenced in this musical sonnet of love, Daniel plays with images of the instrument within the vast elasticity of the sonnet form to create a song any lover of the lute, or of love, would instantly recognize.

Sonnet XLVII

Like as the Lute that joys or else dislikes,
As is his art that plays upon the same:
So sounds my Muse according as she strikes
On my heart strings, high tuned unto her fame.
Her touch doth cause the warble of the sound,
Which here I yield in lamentable wise,
A wailing descant on the sweetest ground,
Whose due reports give honor to her eyes.
Else harsh my style, untunable my Muse,
Hoarse sounds the voice that praiseth not her name:
If any pleasing relish here I use,
Then judge the world her beauty gives the same.
O happy ground that makes the music such,
And blessed hand that gives so sweet a touch.

Anon.: Go from my window-This popular ballad was set by many Elizabethan composers (Morley and Dowland among them), is quoted by playwrights Fletcher & Beaumont and our friend Thomas Heywood, and has been recorded in our time by Steeleye Span. The song's them--that the lover cannot harbor safely this night--was more merry in the earlier versions, but typically with the Elizabethans, tinged with melancholy:

Go from my window, love, go
Go from my window, my dear;
The wind and the rain
Will drive you back again,
You cannot be lodged here.

12. Thomas Campion (1567-1620): When to her lute Corinna sings-After studying at Cambridge, Campion enrolled at Grey's Inn to study law, but found himself fascinated by the theater, playing in masques and dramas. He began composing and publishing, first songs, then a series of Latin epigrams. In 1601 he wrote a treatise on song (with 21 original examples) for Philip Rosseter's Book of Ayres. In fact, with his 1602 Observations on the Art of English Poesie and the 1615 A New Way of Making Four Parts in Counterpoint By a Most Familiar and Infallible Rule, later generations thought him a critic. In 1602 he acquired a medical degree and set up a practice in London (he was 40). Perhaps through the relationship with Rosseter, who was a lutenist to King James, he created masques for court. He produced four more books of ayres, and as he wrote so charmingly in the preface to one, "I have chiefly aimed to couple my words and notes lovingly together." When he died in 1620 of the plague, he had left his meager fortune-_32-to his dear friend Rosseter. This work is from the Second Book of Ayres:


When to her lute Corinna sings,
Her voice revives the leaden strings
And doth in highest notes appear,
As any challenged echo clear;
But when she doth of mourning speak,
E'en with her sighs the strings do break.

And as her lute doth live or die,
Led by her passions, so must I!
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring;
But if she doth of sorrow speak
Ev'n from my heart the strings do break.

13. John Dowland: Lord Willoughby's welcome home-Dowland here re-sets the popular tune Rowland (as William Byrd called his version in the Fitzwilliam Virginal book). It changes the cast of this jig for a comic character into a celebration of the victorious return in 1589 of Lord Willoughby de Eresby, back in England after a successful command of the army in the Lowlands campaigns. When Elizabeth sent him to the aid of Henry of Navarre in September of that year, she wrote to Henry of Willoughby that “…His quality and the place he holds about me are such that it is not customary to permit him to be absent from me; … you will never have cause to doubt his boldness in your service, for he has given too frequent proofs that he regards no peril, be it what it may….”

14. Robert Herrick (1591-1674): Upon Julia's Voice-Son of a suicidal goldsmith (Robert was barely 16 months when his father leapt from their fourth story London home), Herrick was apprenticed to his uncle (also a goldsmith) before attending Cambridge. He came under the sway of Ben Jonson's magnetic circle-the “sons of Ben”-before becoming a priest and army chaplain, composing verse all the while. As a reward for serving with the Duke of Buckingham's campaign to help French Protestants, he was given a church in the South Devon village of Dean Prior. Like any cliché of the big-city boy finding himself among the country folk, his immediate disdain and isolation rapidly melted in the face of the people and their fierce humanity-he particularly loved how they kept their pagan traditions in the face of Puritan pressure. Of particular charm were the country lasses, and his pet pig could famously drink ale from a tankard he kept nearby. When the Puritans took over Parliament, they ejected this loyalist poet, and he had to live back in London off his relatives and their goldsmith trade. With the restoration in 1660, he was allowed to return, where he lived out his final years, buried in an unmarked grave. In Wordsworth's day the locals could still recite his works from memory. Many male poets (if fewer mere male mortals) claim to love everything about women; few do. But for Herrick, everything about a woman, her scent, her dress, her motion, even her voice was divine. What he learned in the fine art smithy of gold work he allied to his lapidary poems-polishing, honing, burnishing so that every word gleams.

Upon Julia's Voice

So smooth, so sweet, so silv'ry is thy voice,
As, could they hear, the damned would make no noise,
But listen to thee, walking in thy chamber,
Melting melodious words to lutes of amber.

15. William Byrd (1539/40-1623): Pavana “Bray”-Another keyboard piece in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, apparently arranged for lute by Francis Cutting (c.1550-1596), this is given the MB listing 59 in the catalogue of Byrd's works, and with the paired galliard is simply listed as “Bray's.” It would be fun to imagine that the Bray so named was of the Shropshire family that sent son Thomas to Maryland to propagate Anglicanism (and perhaps convert the citizens of that Catholic colony back to the true Protestant church), but since Byrd himself was a devout Catholic, that's unlikely. Yet Cutting, of whom we know little except for his lute works, was probably part of the circle of Lord Howard, renting a place near the Howard estate of Arundel-names from that most famous of English Catholic families that still are kept alive in Ronn McFarlane's home state.

16. Richard Barnfield (1574-1627): If music and sweet poetry agree-Raised in Shropshire and attending Oxford, Barnfield was caught up in the spirit of the time-Sir Philip Sidney died when he was still at school-so he came to London to find his heroes. He met Drayton and maybe Spenser, and began publishing in 1594, with his second collection, the twenty sonnets of Cynthia being addressed to Ganymede. This made Barnfield the only other poet of the age to address a sonnet cycle to a man outside of Shakespeare. Indeed his A Remembrance of some English poets is the earliest work to praise Shakespeare by name (sorry, Earl of Oxford partisans), placing the playwright in the same company as Spenser and Samuel Daniel. And additionally, in the same appendix to Poems in divers Humours where we take our sonnet (almost certainly addressed to a courtly male lutenist), the ode “As it fell upon a day/in the merry month of May” appears-a work for centuries attributed to Shakespeare himself. The use of the word conceit, related to “concept,” is in the poetic sense of the vast extended metaphors that guided poets from Petrarch to Donne. Phoebus in this context means Apollo, god of both music and poetry.

If music and sweet poetry agree,
As they must needs, the sister and the brother,
Then must the love be great 'twixt thee and me,
Because thou lovs't the one and I the other.
Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense.
Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such
As passing all conceit needs no defense.
Thou lovest to hear the sweet melodious sound
That Phoebus' lute, the queen of music, makes:
And I in deep delight am chiefly drowned
When as himself to singing he betakes.
One god is god of both, as poets feign;
One knight loves both, and both in thee remain.

John Dowland: Piper's Galliard-Captain Digorie Piper possessed not only one of those perfect Elizabethan names, but also professions: he was a licensed pirate, charged by the Queen to plunder Spanish shipping. That he cast his net rather wider, attacking other nations (including Danish ships) is entirely in character. That Dowland took to writing this piece even while he served King Christian IV of Denmark, gives us a perfect window into the temperament of the time in general, and Dowland in particular. As Dowland's dear friend Henry Peachem said in The Compleat Gentlemen, “he had slipped many opportunities in advancing his fortune.” His contrarian nature may have been more potent than his melancholy.

17. Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723)(ed.): 'Tis but a wanton trick-Perhaps the title of this collection says all we need to say: Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy. The Restoration was like the uncorking of a champagne bottle, and every tendency held in check by the Puritans exploded out into the artistic and popular world. Young Tom, a Devonshire man of Huguenot heritage, found he had a knack not only for the stage but also for humorous song stylings. At home in the courts of the kings, he was equally beloved by the common man; among his most popular songs was The Fart. Inheriting the Playford family dance books, he expanded the charter with whatever bawdy ballad he could find. He adapted Cymbeline (as The Injured Princess); his three-part setting of Don Quixote featured music of Henry Purcell (one of the 40-odd composers who set his work); and he was still writing into the time of Queen Anne. This wild and profane take on a music tutor and his female pupil may never have you look on a lute, a viol, a bow, or a recorder quite the same way ever again.

If anyone long for a musical song
Although that his hearing be thick
The sound that it bears will ravish his ears
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

A pleasant young maid on an instrument played
That knew neither note nor prick
She had a good will to live by her skill
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

A youth in that art, well seen in his part
(They calléd him Derbyshire Dick)
Came to her a suitor and would be her tutor
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

To run with his bow he was not slow
His fingers were nimble and quick
When he played on his bass, he ravished the lass;
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

He wooed her and taught he until he had brought her
To hold out a crotchet and prick
And by his direction she came to perfection:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

With playing and wooing, he still would be doing
And called her his pretty sweet chick;
His reasonable motion brought her to devotion:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

He pleased her so well that backwards she fell
And swoonéd as though she were sick
So sweet was his note that up went her coat:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

The string of his viol she put to the trial
Till she had the full length of the stick
Her white-bellied lute she set to his flute:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

Thus she with her lute and he with his flute
Held every crotchet and prick
She learnéd at leisure, yet played for the pleasure:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

His viol string burst; her tutor she cursed
However, she played with the stick,
From October to June she was quite out of tune:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

And then she repented that e'er she'd consented
To have either note or prick,
For learning so well made her belly to swell:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

All maids that make trial of a lute or a viol
Take heed how you handle the stick!
If you like not this order, come try my recorder:
Whoop!, `Tis but a wanton trick

Anon.: Peg-a-ramsey/Robin Reddock--Two pieces added by “An unknown adult hand” to William Ballett's lute book, presented to him by his teacher William Vines. Sir John Hawkins reflecting on the first tune notes that it was the same as we see in Twelfth Night linked to Malvolio (Act II, sc. 3. SIR TOBY: Malvolio's a Peg-a-Ramsey…). Dr. John Bull sets it as “Little Pegge of Ramsey” and Tom D'Urfey notes the tune was sung to one of the ballads he collected originally as “O! London is a fine town.” The robin (also called the “redduck”) is associated in medieval and Elizabethan lore with lust (thus its red breast), the natural pagan world in the Robin Hood tales, and the Crucifixion (by comforting Christ on the Cross, the formerly dun-colored bird was gifted with a mark of Christ's blood on its breast). One takes comfort in the medieval imagination understanding that these things lived in harmony, not in conflict, in their minds.

18. Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III, sc. ii-Ah, yes: “Who is Silvia? What is she…?” we ask in this delightful early play. It makes elegant sense that the changeable Gentleman named Proteus would invoke in almost a throw-away quatrain not only Orpheus, but in that last line one of the most magnificent evocations of the susurration of the sea in the language. Ovid would have been pleased.

PRO. For Orpheus' lute was strung with poets' sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame, and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.

19. John Dowland: A Fancy--Of the hundred-or-so solo lute works by Dowland, a number are labeled “fancy.” This is the renaissances fantasia form, allowing the composer to have free range of expression; sometimes they are linked to a special tune ("Forlorn Hope"), sometimes to a technique ("Tremolo"). This is one of the four Fancys in the Cambridge Dowland Manuscript, and is given the Poulton listing 73.

20. Sir John Davies (1569-1626): Nosce Teipsum--Born in Wiltshire to a good family, Davies studied literature at Winchester and at Oxford, where his writings came to the attention of the Queen. He had some trouble becoming a lawyer: he was disbarred for striking his friend Richard Martin with a cudgel in the Inns at Court, after dedicating his 1596 poem with its account of the history and value of dancing (“Orchestra”) to Martin. His two 1599 works found great favor with the Queen (he dedicated The Hymnes of Astraea to her), and the one called Nosce Teipsum (“Know Thyself”) also brought Davies to the attention of Lord Mountjoy, who became Lord Deputy of Ireland. That, and the patronage of James I, leads us to the rest of Davies' life and his work in Ireland. But we will stay with that vast philosophical poem, and how in the section “Objections against the Immortality of the Soul” Davies uses the skills of a lutenist to answer two questions: Doesn't the soul get old?-look how old people behave; and How can the soul shine forth when the body itself decays?

Objection I

For what, say they, doth not the Soul wax old?
How comes it then that aged men do dote,
And that their brains grow sottish*, dull and cold, *stupefied as if by drink
Which were in youth the only spirits of note?

What? Are not souls within themselves corrupted?
How can there idiots then by nature be?
How is it some wits are interrupted,
That now bedazzled are, now clearly see?


So, though the clouds eclipse the sun's fair light,
Yet from his face they do not take one beam;
So have our eyes their perfect power of sight
Even when they look into a troubled stream.

Then these defects in Senses' organs be
Not in the soul or in her working might:
She cannot lose her perfect power to see,
Though mists and clouds do choke her window light.

These imperfections then we must impute
Not to the agent but the instrument:
We must not blame Apollo, but his lute,
If false accords from her false strings be sent.

As a good harper stricken far in years,
Into whose cunning hand the gout is fall,
All his old crochets in his brain he bears,
But on the harp plays ill, or not at all.

But if Apollo take his gout away,
That he his nimble fingers may apply,
Apollo's self will envy at his play,
And all the world applaud his minstrelsy.

Objection II

Yet say these men: If all her organs die,
Then hath the Soul no power her powers to use;
So, in a sort, her powers extinct do lie
When unto act she cannot them reduce.

And if her powers be dead, then what is she?
For sith* from everything some powers do spring, *since
And from those powers some acts proceeding be,
Then kill the power and act, and kill the thing.


Doubtless the body's death, when once it dies,
The instruments of sense and life doth kill,
So that she cannot use those faculties,
Although their root rest in her substance still.


(Yet) if one man well on a lute doth play,
And have good horsemanship, and learning's skill,
Though both his lute and horse we take away,
Doth he not keep his former learning still?

He keeps it doubtless, and can use it too,
And doth both the other skills in power retain,
And can of both the proper actions do
If with his lute or horse he meet again.

So, though the instruments (by which we live
And view the world) the body's death do kill,
Yet with the body they shall all revive,
And all their wonted offices fulfill.

John Dowland: Fortune my Foe-Another resetting of a popular ballad, and another masterpiece of the composer's melancholy strain, it appears in solo and consort form. Early lyrics survive what must have been a popular tune for broadside ballads, and as Falstaff flatters Mrs. Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, he responds to her proclamation that she is but a plain woman (Act III, sc. iii):

FAL. By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou wouldst make an absolute courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert, if Fortune my foe were not, Nature thy friend. Come, thou canst not hide it.

21. John Dowland: Queen Elizabeth's Galliard-Published seven years after the Queen's death in 1603, this was a re-working of an earlier galliard Dowland had dedicated to Kathryn Darcie around 1590. Despite the darker hue Dowland encouraged in his self-image, this lively dance form was much his favorite; we have twice as many settings of the galliard as any other type of dance he composed.

22. Sir Thomas Wyatt: My Lute Awake
John Dowland: Tarleton's Resurrection. These works fit together magically. Dowland had already written a work for Lord Strange, in whose company of actors Shakespeare had performed from the end of the 1580s. Will Tarleton had been a comic actor with the troupe, and had died in 1588. Was this meant to be a dance for him, or an elegy on his passing? No matter; through this music let us remember them all.

My Lute Awake

My lute awake! perform the last
Labour that thou and I shall waste,
And end that I have now begun;
For when this song is sung and past,
My lute be still, for I have done.

As to be heard where ear is none,
As lead to grave in marble stone, * *(lead is too soft to be used for engraving)
My song may pierce her heart as soon;
Should we then sigh or sing or moan?
No, no, my lute, for I have done.

The rocks do not so cruelly
Repulse the waves continually,
As she my suit and affection;
So that I am past remedy,
Whereby my lute and I have done.

Proud of the spoil that thou hast got
Of simple hearts thorough Love's shot,* *(Cupid's arrow)
By whom, unkind, thou hast them won,
Think not he hath his bow forgot,
Although my lute and I have done.

Vengeance shall fall on thy disdain
That makest but game on earnest pain.
Think not alone under the sun
Unquit* to cause thy lovers plain, *unrequited
Although my lute and I have done.

Perchance thee lie withered and old
The winter nights that are so cold,
Plaining* in vain unto the moon; *lamenting; complaining
Thy wishes then dare not be told;
Care then who list, for I have done.

And then may chance thee to repent
The time that thou hast lost and spent
To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon;
Then shalt thou know beauty but lent,
And wish and want as I have done.

Now cease, my lute; this is the last
Labour that thou and I shall waste,
And ended is that we begun.
Now is this song both sung and past:
My lute be still, for I have done.

Composer Info

Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), John Dowland, Thomas Heywood (1574-1641), Shakespeare, Samuel Daniel (1562-1619), Thomas Campion (1567-1620), Robert Herrick (1591-1674), William Byrd (1539/40-1623), Richard Barnfield (1574-1627), Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723), Sir John Davies (1569-1626)

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