Greensleeves

220px-Greensleeves-rossetti-mod

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

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

Alas, my love, that you should own
A heart of wanton vanity,
So must I meditate alone
Upon your insincerity.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

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

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

I bought thee kerchiefs for thy head,
That were wrought fine and gallantly;
I kept thee at both board and bed,
Which cost my purse well-favoredly.

(Chorus)

I bought thee petticoats of the best,
The cloth so fine as it might be;
I gave thee jewels for thy chest,
And all this cost I spent on thee.

(Chorus)

Thy smock of silk, both fair and white,
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of sendal right,
And these I bought thee gladly.

(Chorus)

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.

(Chorus)

They set thee up, they took thee down,
They served thee with humility;
Thy foot might not once touch the ground,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

(Chorus)

‘Tis, 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.

(Chorus)

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.

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

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.

chorus

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.

chorus

Wikipedia: A broadside ballad by this name was registered at the London Stationers’ Company in September 1580,[1] by Richard Jones, as “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”.[2] Six more ballads followed in less than a year, one on the same day, 3 September 1580 (“Ye Ladie Greene Sleeves answere to Donkyn hir frende” by Edward White), then on 15 and 18 September (by Henry Carr and again by White), 14 December (Richard Jones again), 13 February 1581 (Wiliam Elderton), and August 1581 (White’s third contribution, “Greene Sleeves is worne awaie, Yellow Sleeves Comme to decaie, Blacke Sleeves I holde in despite, But White Sleeves is my delighte”).[3] It then appears in the surviving A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) as A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. To the new tune of Green Sleeves. There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry’s attempts to seduce her and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer’s love “cast me off discourteously”. However, Henry did not compose “Greensleeves”, which is probably Elizabethan in origin and is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after his death.[4]

I would add that there are numerous versions of the lyrics, and what follows below differs slightly both from The King’s Singers (above) and from Flanders and Swann (below)

The illustration is My Lady Greensleeves (1864) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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2 Responses to Greensleeves

  1. I didn’t realise Nick Clegg had been a member of the King’s Singers 🙂

  2. layanglicana says:

    The one on the far right?! He does look much happier than we have seen him recently, doesn’t he!

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