Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

To suffer the triumph, and joy in my smart!
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

"O willow, willow, willow! the willow garland,
O willow, etc.

A sign of her falsenesse before me doth stand.
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland.

"As here it doth bid to despair and to dye,
O willow, etc.

So hang it, friends, ore me in grave where I lye.
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

[ocr errors]

"In grave where I rest mee, hang this to the view, O willow, etc.

Of all that doe knowe her, to blaze her untrue.
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

"With these words engraven, as epitaph meet, O willow, etc.

'Here lyes one, drank poyson for potion most sweet.' O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

Though she thus unkindly hath scorned my love,
O willow, etc.

And carelesly smiles at the sorrowes I prove;
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

"I cannot against her unkindly exclaim,

O willow, etc.

Cause once well I loved her, and honoured her name.
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland.

"The name of her sounded so sweete in mine eare,
O willow, etc.

It rays'd my heart lightly, the name of my deare;
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

"As then 'twas my comfort, it now is my griefe;
O willow, etc.

It now brings me anguish; then brought me reliefe.
O willow, etc.

Sing, O the greene willow, etc.

"Farewell, faire false-hearted, plaints end with my breath! O willow, willow, willow!

Thou dost loath me, I love thee, though cause of my death.
O willow, willow, willow!

O willow, willow, willow!

Sing, O the greene willow shall be my garland."

Here then we have a pathetic scene heightened by a tender and melancholy ballad. There is a passing allusion to a very pathetic ballad in "Henry IV." (Part II. Act ii. Sc. 4), where Pistol says:

"Pistol. What! shall we have incision? shall we imbrue? — [Snatching up his sword. Then death rock me asleep, abridge my doleful days! Why then, let grievous, ghastly, gaping wounds Untwine the sisters three! Come, Atropos, I say!"

The line in italics is taken from a sorrowful song which is said to have been written by Anne Boleyn, after her downfall, beginning,

"Oh, Death, rocke me asleep."

The reader will find it in the second volume of Chappell's "Old English Ditties."

It is difficult to decide in which direction Shakespeare has been strongest; the light songs of Ophelia, the foreboding melancholy of Desdemona, the portrayal of the befuddled Sir Toby by his snatches of refrains of bacchanalian songs, are all different phases of one art. There is still another phase of this art to study, however, and in the next chapter we shall see our poet in the domain of absolute parody.

CHAPTER XII.

Shakespeare's Lyrics - The Lyric Poets of the Elizabethan Epoch - Ben Jonson - Marlowe - Parodies of other Poets - Doubtful Poems The Numerous Settings of Shakespeare's Poems —“Take, Oh, Take Those Lips Away"-"Come, Live with Me and Be My Love - German Translations and German Musical Settings of Shakespeare - Schubert's Hark, Hark, the Lark"- Purcell.

"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THAT Shakespeare should write many lyrics in his plays was a foregone conclusion. He lived in an age when there was the strongest tendency toward the lyric forms. Ritson, in his "Select Collection of English Songs," gives an important historical essay upon this subject, in which he states that not a single composition of the modern lyrical style, containing a spark of literary merit, can be discovered before the Elizabethan era. We are disposed to place "rare Ben Jonson" at the head of the lyrical writers of the era, if it were only on account of that finest of love-songs (as good as any of its length in any language), "Drink to me only with thine eyes." We may state, en passant, that this poem evoked the finest of contemporary music, a melody and harmony

so rich and beautiful that many have credited it to Mozart, but as Doctor Burney, contemporary with Mozart, sought in vain to discover its composer, we may dismiss this theory and content ourselves with the fact that one of the best lyrics of the Elizabethan time, both words and music, has come down to us intact.

Shakespeare occasionally made use of the poems of his contemporaries, in his plays, often alluding to them (as we have seen) by some borrowed phrase, frequently giving a title of some poem or song, sometimes interweaving them in the action of his drama, and sometimes even parodying the lyric. A parody of this kind, and a very subtle one, we find in the grave-digging scene in "Hamlet." Fortunately, in this case, both the original poem and the music are left to us, so that we can trace every detail of the poet's humour. The musical part of the scene runs as follows:

ness.

"[First Clown digs and sings.

6

In youth, when I did love, did love,

Methought, it was very sweet,

To contract, O, the time, for, ah, my behove,
O, methought, there was nothing meet.'

Hamlet. Has this fellow no feeling of his business? he sings at grave-making.

Horatio. Custom hath made it in him a property of easi

Hamlet. 'Tis e'en so the hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.

« AnteriorContinuar »