kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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Yesterday, I posted about Christina Rossetti's poem, "In the Bleak Midwinter", which (as set to music by Holst) is one of my favorite carols at this time of year for its haunting quality. It put me in mind of another haunting tune that I love. The Christmas carol version is "What Child is This", but the tune is Greensleeves, and is associated with lyrics of the same name stemming from sometime during the Elizabethan era. (Rumors that the song was written by Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn appear to be mistaken.) The song is confirmed to have been in existence (and widely known) as early as 1580.


Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.


I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.


If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.


My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.


Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.

I had a heck of a time coming up with a version I liked on YouTube, so I'm giving you this one by Fumiaka Myomoto and his daughter Emilee, backed with a lovely quintet who sing some of the lyrics. It gets a bit new-agey in the middle, but it works. Kinda. I like it because they use the original, Doric mode version, and not the simplified "in a minor key" version. That last comment will only make sense to Anne Marie and a handful of others, but there it is.

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Tags: poetry, poetry friday, songs

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