Wednesday 29 June 2022

Evensong: Dowland

 Come again: John Dowland

John Dowland, 1563 to1626 was an English or possibly Irish Renaissance composer, lutenist, singer and spy. This version is by Sting, from his album Songs from the Labyrinth. To properly understand this love song remember that, in Elizabethan slang, "to Die" was a euphemism for sexual climax.
Come again: sweet love doth now invite,
Thy graces that refrain,
To do me due delight:
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
To die with thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again that I may cease to mourn,
Through thy unkind disdain,
For now left and forlorn:
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die,
In deadly pain, and endless misery.

All the day the sun that lends me shine,
By frowns do cause me pine,
And feeds me with delay:
Her smiles, my springs, that makes my joys to grow,
Her frowns the winters of my woe:

All the night, my sleeps are full of dreams,
My eyes are full of streams,
My heart takes no delight:
To see the fruits and joys that some do find,
And mark the storms are me assign'd,

Out alas, my faith is ever true,
Yet will she never rue,
Nor yield me any grace:
Her eyes of fire, her heart of flint is made,
Whom tears nor truth may once invade.

Gentle love draw forth thy wounding dart,
Thou canst not pierce her heart,
For I that do approve:
By sighs and tears more hot then are thy shafts:
Did tempt while she for triumph laughs.


mongoose said...

Well, no offence to Mr Dowland but Sting has needed gassing since about 1985. Horrible smug bastard. As an ex-angelic chorister I can allow though that the boy can sing. He doesn't do this tremendously well though, mrs i, does he? Too much I. It's supposed to be reflective, affectionate, almost rueful not narcissistic.

mrs ishmael said...

Harsh, mr mongoose? I don't generally keep up, but even I have been aware of the chap's success. This particular version of "Come Again" was showcased on Radio 3, together with an interview with Sting in which he claimed that his rough, untrained voice more closely approximated the sound Dowland and his audiences expected than the classically trained productions we are accustomed to. In my research for the post, I auditioned several such and was particularly affronted by a female soloist with a madrigal-esque backing group. It's a man's song, for heaven's sake: oh yes, I'm fully aware that nowadays women court women and that women masturbate, although probably not in the shameful, agonised, guilty manner described by Dowland - but culturally, historically, contextually, this is a man's song. I envisaged it as a young man's song, battering down his lady's resistance with the mixture of lyricism, flattery and smut oft deployed by our chum from Stratford - but I can see that it works also as an old man's song, remembering past glories in the fragrant field.
Anyroadup, you were a chorister? How splendid and enviable. You have quite the grounding in music, faith and ritual. Are you also an instrumentalist? Mr ishmael was a guitarist and piano/keyboard player. My role is that of audience, as I am possessed of a voice that usually caused mr ishmael to issue a cease and desist order, when I uplifted it joyfully on a spring morning, or riffed on the delights of a cup of tea (it goes like this: cuppa tea, cuppa tea, cuppa tea,tea,tea, Cuppa tea, cuppa tea for you and me). It was the unexpected and unwelcome key changes that appeared to cause him nerve damage.

mongoose said...

I was a virginal descant, mrs i. Only the dogs could hear me.