Sunday, January 20, 2013

Present Mirth hath Present Laughter (bis)

"O Mistress Mine"
Sedate and stately -- and  past breathing   sweet

[A note to our younger readers:
The term mistress here appears, of course, in its Elizabethan sense,
with none of the contemporary shady connotations:
it is closer to m’lady or damsel than  to concubine or kept woman.
Mistress is cognate with master, and retains that sense
in phrases like “mistress of the situation”
or “the moon is a harsh mistress.”
Indeed, to the extent that any prior or prospective intimacy is implied,
this inheres in the possessive pronoun,
and not in the noun.
Nay further:  not in the mere pronoun as such,
since there is no such connotation in “my lord”, “my good sir”, or “my dear fellow”;
rather, in the expressive post-position of same.

For a glance at a similarly old and honorable word,
click here:  gentleman.]

Sancta Caecilia, canta pro nobis
Sprightly, with a soaring soprano, almost beyond the auditory range.

(Fast-forward past the jugglery tomfoolery at the end,
and you will be rewarded with an instrumentally extraordinarily serious and deliberate performance,
by older, seasoned players (including Julian Bream)
and a beautiful baritone  who understands everything
about love and the ladies ...)

[Update]  Re-watching/listening this,  one is struck
by just how superserious
are all the instrumentalists
(Bream in particular).
It is as if they are performing  particularly delicate  brain-surgery,
on (say) the President, or the Pope.
Which in a sense they are.
Attempting, with all diligence, to keep the beautiful Elizabethan vision alive,
amid the wreck of our present culture.
This one's by a countertenor, which is inherently weird,
but very much in the Elizabethan spirit.
After all, the actresses were all actors, back then.
Shakespeare would have approved.

Whither away   so fleet?
Soft down   adorn thy feet
as we  in lilies lie,
our love   a lullaby.
-- Anon., school of Crashaw

Gaudeamus, igitur

The birds and blossoms
avaunt away.
Where was the blue sky,
‘twill all be gray.
Where spread the greensward
cold snow lies white.
As now sweet sunset--
‘twill soon be night.

--  Thomas Campion  (previously unpublished;  private collection)

Carpe florem
            Carpe diem,   noctem   etiam capere

Stay, stay --  let not the call of false cock crowing
'tice thee away, who in my arms dreamt on
beneath th’ unseeing stars, and moon unknowing;
Nay, stay;  perchance the day may never dawn.

For as the cruèl Sun  with harsh hot beamings
the morning dew  to nought   dissolveth quite:
so too the daylight  striketh blind our dreamings.
Nay, stay, and pray:  Return, O blessèd Night !

-- Richard Crashaw (from manuscript;  private holdings of the WDJ library)


When thy cheeks’ May shall turn to Autumn-tide,
the April of thine eyes  to grey November,
the ripe June of thy bosom  down subside :
then shall we in repose   our loves remember.

-- Andrew Marvell (p.c.)

Ah!  flee ye -- flee we --
to a nunnery --  to a monastery ---
that we might
strip off, flip off
all the filth  of the present predicament,
and hearken only   to the lute
by angels played …

For more to meditate upon:


Again a counter-tenor -- but aïe, how lovely!
John Dowland, “Now, oh now, I needs must part”:

Philological note:  needs is here an adverb, equivalent to perforce.
Here are the lyrics, in case the countertenor delivery makes them hard to understand:

No comments:

Post a Comment