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Blow, blow, thou winter wind

Time again for a bit of the Bard. This morning my windchimes were tinkling merrily in the increasingly strong February breeze. At this moment, it doesn't actually feel like winter, since it's quite warm outside, but the weather people assure me that's about to change. Again. a

On a blustery February day, what could be more fitting than one of Shakespeare's songs? This one is from As You Like It, Act II, scene 7, and is given to Lord Amiens, one of Duke Senior's company who sings to the exiled Duke and his friends just after Orlando brings his servant, Adam, to join the company. Orlando and Adam have just expressed their gratitude for the kind reception by Duke Senior (despite Orlando's rather rude intrusion in the first place) and for sharing what food he has with them. The song (by negative implication) praises their gratitude, and also indirectly reminds the audience that the group are in exile in the wilds because of the ingratitude and malice of Duke Senior's brother. As You Like It is one of the plays I covered during Brush Up Your Shakespeare Month, and you can read a shortish summary of the play here.

In the following song, Shakespeare compares the harsh, "rude" winter wind to man's ingratitude and to turning one's back on a friend, both of which are seen as far worse than the biting wind.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
by William Shakespeare

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,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered 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.


A word about the form: The verses are written in iambic trimeter (taDUM taDUM taDUM), using the rhyme scheme AABCCB. The chorus is written in dactyls - a poetic foot consisting of three syllables, one stressed and two unstressed (DUMtata DUMtata). There are four feet per line, making the chorus dactylic tetrameter, if you care to know such things. (Probably you don't.)

Here is a truly lovely version I found while skimming through YouTube. It's done by a woman named Molly Bauckham, who has a CD out called "Maid on the Shore". You can find further information on her YouTube posts and channel.



Of course, I could as easily have gone with a different song, For the Rain, it Raineth Every Day, but I just put that one up two weeks ago.


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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
lorrainemt
Jan. 30th, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
Ah, I'm so happy to see another Bard post by Kelly! I'll have to bookmark it and come back later though to really enjoy it. Thanks!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 31st, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
You are most welcome!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 30th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC)
tanita says:
Short of "greasy Joan" keeling the pot, this is my fave Shakespeare poem. I found a choral arrangement of the poem (http://tanitasdavis.com/wp/?p=2127) by Rutter, and LOVE it, and am just looking for some excuse to perform it somewhere. Alas, there's not much call for singing "most friendship is feigning, most love, mere folly," but I'll keep looking...
kellyrfineman
Jan. 31st, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
I knew about the Rutter, and was looking for something more personal and a bit less choral, which is why I was delighted to find Molly Bauckham's setting.
Molly Bauckham
Feb. 5th, 2013 04:45 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Oh my goodness! What a lovely compliment. Thank you so much for linking to my setting...I'm truly, truly glad you enjoyed it. :) --Molly Bauckham
kellyrfineman
Feb. 7th, 2013 01:18 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you so much!
Loved your setting. Hopefully it's boosted your views a bit, and perhaps sold a CD or two!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2013 02:05 pm (UTC)
Beautiful!
How beautiful! I love the way Shakespeare's language of writing really makes you think- and Molly- What can I say!! My wrists ache of pressing the REPLAY button so many times...
kellyrfineman
Mar. 4th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Beautiful!
Isn't her song-setting lovely?
Molly Bauckham
Mar. 7th, 2013 03:39 am (UTC)
Re: Beautiful!
Thanks again to both of you! I must confess this is only my first or second foray into composing, so your positive comments are really boosting my confidence. :) Hopefully someday soon I'll get it transcribed so I can publish the arrangement. (I play and compose almost entirely by ear.)
Miss Rosario
Jun. 6th, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Iamb
Can you please help me understand meter and foot. How would I know it is "DUMtata"? Thanks.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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