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O Mistress Mine by William Shakespeare

Tomorrow being Valentine's Day, I figured I'd go with a somewhat romantic song from one of my favorites of Shakespeare's plays, Twelfth Night.

O Mistress Mine
by William Shakespeare
from Twelfth Night, Act I, sc. 3

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love's coming,
That can sing both high and low.
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.

What is love? 'Tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What's to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty;
Youth's a stuff will not endure.

Discussion and analysis:

The structure of the song is as follows: It is rhymed AABCCB DDEFFE, and it uses a mix of meters. The first two lines of each stanza are in iambic tetrameter (although in the first stanza, there's an extra "feminine" ending resulting in nine syllables in a line that has 4 iambic feet: taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM(ta)). The third and sixth lines of each stanza are trochaic trimeter (with an extra stressed syllable at the end of the line: DUMta DUMta DUMta DUM), for a total of seven syllables per line. And the fourth and fifth lines of each stanza are in trochaic tetramter (four trochaic feet per line: DUMta DUMta DUMta DUMta).

Of course, when I sing this to myself (which is far more often than most of you would guess), I sing the alto part to a choral setting by Ralph Vaughn Williams, seen performed here by a Graduate Recital Choir:

If you'd prefer, you can check out Sir Ben Kingsley as Feste in the 1996 movie version of Twelfth Night, which includes a nice performance (interrupted by some dialogue between Viola and Orsino):

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 14th, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
You are correct, madam!
Feb. 14th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for including the Ralph Vaughn Williams version! My high school chorus sang this my senior year. I too sing it often (the soprano part), but haven't heard it sung by a group in years. Happy Valentine's Day!
Feb. 14th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
We should get together - I sing the alto part!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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