20 November 2014

Poetry Thursday - Fine Knacks for Ladies, by Anon

Sing along (via)
Fine Knacks for Ladies

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap choice, brave and new
Good penniworthes, but money cannot woo;
I keep a fair, but for the fair to view;
A beggar may be liberal of love.
Tho' all my wares be trash, the heart is true,
     the heart is true,  the heart is true.

Great gifts are guiles and look for gifts again,
My trifles come, as treasures from my mind,
It is a precious jewel to be plain,
Sometimes in shell, the orient pearls we find.
All others take a sheaf, of me a grain,
     of me a grain, of me a grain.

Within the pack, pins, points, laces, and gloves
And diverse toys, fitting a country fair
But in my heart, where duty serves and loves,
Turtles and twins, courts brood, a heavenly pair.
Happy the heart that thinks, of no removes,
     of no removes, of no removes.

Borrowed from "An Elizabethan Song Book."
John Dowland, Second Book of Songs or Ayres, 1600. (via)

Carol Rumens' analysis of the poem will deepen your understanding of it - there is a little mystery about the author - it's given as "an old peddler's song", but could it have been Dowland himself, or perhaps Thomas Campion? And what of those "removes" in the last line - a removal of clothing, perhaps?

Plenty of renditions of the song can be found on youtube - by Sting, a 1984 BBC clip from the King's Singers "Madrigal History Tour" (with a young Antony Rooley on lute), by tenor Tyler Ray, from German television sung by the Singphoniker (with a good strong countertenor), by Alfred Deller, an inspiration to the early music revival ... pages and pages of versions ...
Traditionally rendered (via)

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