Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Spring’s Welcome
By John Lyly (1555?–1606)
 
WHAT 1 bird so sings, yet so does wail?
O ’tis the ravish’d nightingale.
Jug, jug, jug, tereu! she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.
Brave prick-song! 2 Who is’t now we hear?        5
None but the lark so shrill and clear;
Now at heaven’s gate she claps her wings, 3
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark, with what a pretty throat
Poor robin redbreast tunes his note;        10
Hark how the jolly cuckoos sing
Cuckoo! to welcome in the spring!
Cuckoo! to welcome in the spring!
 
Note 1. From Alexander and Campaspe, act v, sc. 1, first produced at the Court New Year’s Eve or Day of Christmas, 1581–2. [back]
Note 2. Brave prick-song.  “The nightingale’s song, being full of rich variety, is often termed prick-song by old writers. So they speak of the cuckoo’s plain-song.” (Bullen.) “Harmony written or pricked down in opposition to plain-song, where descant rested with the will of the singer.” (Chappell.) [back]
Note 3. Now at heaven’s gate she claps her wings.  The comparison has been made of this line to the opening words of Shakespeare’s song in Cymbeline, ii. 3. 21.
  “A different, but inferior and I think later version of Lyly’s song altering the fourth line and also substituting the sparrow for the robin is given, with Cupid and My Campaspe, but without source or author specified in Thomas Lyle’s Ancient Ballads and Songs, 1827.” (R. Warwick Bond.) [back]
 
 
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