The works of John Dowland

The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres

Second Book

Dowland´s The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres was published July 15th, 1600.
The text of the title-page reads:

of Songs or Ayres,
of 2. 4. and 5. parts:
With Tableture for the Lute or
Orpherian, with the Violl
de Gamba.
Composed by IOHN DOWLAND Batcheler
of Musick, and Lutenist to the King of Den-
mark: Also an excelent lesson for the Lute
and Base Viol, called
Dowlands adew.
Published by George Eastland, and are
to be sould at his house neere the greene Dragon
and Sword, in Fleetstreete.

The Second Booke of Songs or Ayres contains the following 22 songs:


I saw my Lady weepe

Structure: a-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: Dedicated to Anthony Holborne. Text probably by John Lyly.

I saw my Lady weep,
And sorrow proud to be advanced so:
In those fair eyes where all perfections keep,
Her face was full of woe,
But such a woe (believe me) as wins more hearts,
Than Mirth can do with her enticing parts.

Sorrow was there made fair,
And passion wise, tears a delightful thing,
Silence beyond all speech a wisdom rare,
She made her sighs to sing,
And all things with so sweet a sadness move,
As made my heart at once both grieve and love.

O fairer than aught else,
The world can show, leave off in time to grieve,
Enough, enough, your joyful looks excels,
Tears kills the heart believe.
O strive not to be excellent in woe,
Which only breeds your beauty´s overthrow. 

"I saw my lady weep" by John Dowland from Valeria Mignaco & Alfonso Marin on Vimeo.

Flow my teares fall from your springs

Structure: a-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 5 St.
Comment: This famous soung appears as the widely known Lachrimæ antiquae in his Lachrimaæ (1604).

Flow my tears fall from your springs,
Exil'd for ever: let me mourn
Where nights black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights shine you no more,
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore,
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled,
And tears, and sighs, and groans my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment,
My fortune is thrown,
And fear, and grief, and pain for my deserts
Are my hopes since hope is gone.

Hark you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light,
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world´s despite. 

"Flow my tears" by John Dowland from Valeria Mignaco & Alfonso Marin on Vimeo.

Sorow sorow stay, lend true repentant teares

Structure: g-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 1 Strophe.

Sorrow, stay, lend true repentant tears,
To a woeful wretched wight,
Hence, Despair with thy tormenting fears:
O do not my poor heart affright.
Pity, help now or never,
Mark me not to endless pain,
Alas I am condemned ever,
No hope, no help there doth remain,
But down, down, down, down I fall,
And arise I never shall. 

Dye not before thy day

Structure: g-minor, 4/2, 3/2 rhythm, 1 Strophe.
Comment: Contrasting sections: sustained lines, then dance-like. Text msut come from a masque or play.

Die not before thy day, poor man condemned,
But lift thy low looks from the huumble earth,
Kiss not Despair and see sweet Hope contemned:
The hag hath no delight, but moan for mirth,
O fie poor fondling fie be willing,
To preserve thyself from killing:
Hope thy keeper glad to free thee,
Bids thee go and will not see thee,
Hie thee quickly from thy wrong,
So she ends her willing song. 

Mourne, mourne, day is with darknesse fled

Structure: d-minor/D-major, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4 rhythm, 1 Strophe.
Comment: An unusual song, the time relationships given are no doubt correct in theory, but crotchet = minim and vice versa till the final section, then minim = crotchet may be more satisfactory in practice.

Mourn, mourn, Day is with darkness fled,
What heav'n then governs earth,
O none, but hell in heaven´s stead,
Chokes with his mists our mirth.
Mourn, mourn, look now for no mre day
Nor night, but that from hell,
Then all must as they may
In darkness learn to dwell.
But yet this change, must needs change our delight,
That thus the sun should harbour with the night. 

Tymes eldest sonne, old age the heire of ease, First part

Structure: G-major, 1 St.
Comment: First part of the song. In the style of a song with viols, the voice being one of the contrapuntal parts.

Time´s eldest son, Old Age the heir of Ease,
Strength´s foe, Love´s woe, and foster to Devotion,
Bids galant youths in martial prowess please,
As for himself, he hath no earthly motion,
But thinks sighs, tears, vows, prayers, and sacrifices,
As good shows, masks, jousts, or tilt devises. 

Then sit thee downe, and say thy Nunc demittis, Second Part

Structure: G-major, 1 St.
Comment: Second part of the song.

Then sit thee down, and say thy Nunc Dimitis
With De profundis, Credo, and Te Deum,
Chant Miserere for now so fit is,
As that, or this, Paratum est cor meum
O that thy Saint would take in worth thy heart,
Thou canst not please her with a better part. 

When others sings Venite exultemus, Third part

Structure: G-major, 1 St.
Comment: Third part of the song.

When others sings Venite exultemus,
Stand by and turn to Noli aemulari,
For Quare fremuerunt use Oremus,
Vivat Eliza
for an Ave Mari,
And teach those swains that lives about thy cell,
To say Amen when thou dost pray so well. 

Praise blindnesse eies, for seeing is deceipt

Structure: d-minor, 3/2 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: Most of the song should be thought of as in 4/2, starting from the second note. There are three stanzas to the first part, followed by a two-line Envoi to new music, with a repeat which should be made. The poem appears to be a sonnet.

Praise blindness eyes, for seeing is decit,
Be dumb vain tongue, words are but flatt'ring winds,
Break heart and bleed for there is no receipt,
To purge inconstancy from most men´s minds.

And if thine ears false heralds to thy heart,
Convey into thy head hopes to obtain,
Then tell thy hearing thou art deaf by art,
Now love is art that wonted to be plain.

Now none is bald except they see his brains,
Affection is not known till one be dead,
Reward for love are labours for his pains,
Love´s quiver made of gold his shafts of lead.

And so I wak'd amaz'd and could not move,
I know my dream was true, and yet I love. 

O sweet woods, the delight of solitarienesse

Structure: d-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 4 St.
Comment: Rondo Form. The refrain is from Sir Philip Sidney´s Arcadia (1580), the rest is probably by Robert, Earl of Essex. The song is dedicated to "Master Hugh Holland", who wrote prefatory peoms to some of Shakespeare´s works.

O sweet woods of delight of solitariness,
O how much I do love your solitariness

Frome Fame´s desire, from Love´s delight, retir`d,
In these sad groves an hermit´s life I led,
And those false pleasures which I once admir`d,
With sad remembrance of my fall I dread,
To birds, to trees, to earth, impart I this,
For she less secret, and as senseless is.
O sweet woods the delight of solitariness,
O how much do I love your solitariness.

Experience which repentance only brings,
Doth bid me now my heart from love estrange,
Love is disdain´d when it doth look at kings,
And love low-placed base and apt to change:
Their pow´r doth take from him is liberty,
Her want of worth makes him in cradle die.
O sweet woods the delight of solitariness,
O how much do I love your solitariness.

You men that give false worship unto love,
And seek that which you never shall obtain,
The endless work of Sisyphus you procure,
Whose end is this to know you strive in vain,
Hope and Desire which now your idols be,
You needs must lose and feel despair with me.
O sweet woods the delight of solitariness,
O how much do I love your solitariness.

You woods in you the fairest nymphs have walk´d,
Nymphs at whose sight all hearts did yield to love,
You woods in whom dear lovers oft have talk´d,
How do you know a place of mourning prove,
Wanstead my mistress saith this is the doom,
Thou art Love´s childbed, nursery and tomb.
O sweet woods the delight of solitariness,
O how much do I love your solitariness. 

If fluds of teares could clense my follies past

Structure: a-minor, 3/2, 4/4, 3/2 rhythm, 2 St.
Comment: The poem is printed at the end of the "Sonnets of Divers Noblemen and Gentlemen' in Sidney`s Astrophel and Stella (1591), and has been ascribed to Thomas Nash.

If floods of tears could cleanse my follies past,
And smokes of sighs might sacrifice for sin,
If groaning cries might salve my fault at last,
Or endless moan, for error pardon win,
Then would I cry, weep, sigh, and ever moan,
Mine errors, faults, sins, follies, past and gone.

I see my hopes must wither in their bud,
I see my favours are no lasting flow´rs
I see that words will breed no better good,
Than loss of time and light´ning but at hours,
Thus when I see, then thus I say therefore,
That favours hopes and words, can blind no more. 

Fine knacks for Ladies, cheap, choise, braue and new

Structure: F-major, 4/4 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: The most extrovert song of Dowland.

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap choice brave and new,
Good pennyworths but money cannot move,
I keep a fair but for the fair to view,
A beggar may be liberal of love,
Though all my wares be trash 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´s pearls we find,
Of others take a sheaf, of me a grain.

Within this pack pins points laces and gloves,
And divers toys fitting a country fair,
But in my heart where duty serves and loves,
Turtles and twins, Court´s brood, a heav´nly pair,
Happy the heart that thinks of no removes. 

Now cease my wandring eyes

Structure: F-major, 4/4 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: This song is in the form of an Almain.

Now cease my wand'ring eyes,
Strange beauties to admire,
In change least comfort lies,
Long joys yield long desire.
One faith one love,
Makes our frail pleasures eternal, and in sweetness prove,
New hopes new joys,
Are still with sorrow declining, unto deep annoys.

One man hath but one soul,
Which art cannot divide,
If all one soul must love,
Two loves must be denied,
One soul one love,
By faith and merit united cannot remove,
Distracted sprites,
Are ever changing and hapless in their delights.

Nature two eyes hath giv'n,
All beauty to impart
As well in earth as heav'n,
But she hath giv'n one heart,
That though we see,
Ten thousand beauties yet in us one should be,
One steadfast love,
Because our hearts stand fix'd although our eyes do move. 

Come ye heavie states of night

Structure: g-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 2 St.
Comment: This song seems suited to a scene from a play. Apparently sung by a daughter.

Come ye heavy states of night,
Do my father´s spirit right,
Soundings baleful let me borrow,
Burthening my song with sorrow,
Come sorrow come her eyes that sings,
By thee are turned into springs.

Come you virgins of the night,
That in dirges sad delight,
Choir by anthems, I do borrow
Gold nor pearl, but sounds of sorrow:
Come sorrow come her eyes that sings,
By thee are turnes into springs. 

White as Lillies was hir face

Structure: g-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 8 St.
Comment: A very short song, repeat is necessary.

White as lilies was her face,
When she smiled,
She beguiled,
Quitting faith with foul disgrace,
Virtue service thus neglected,
Heart with sorrows hath infected.

When I swore my heart her own,
She disdained,
I complained,
Yet she left me overthrown,
Careless of my bitter grieving,
Ruthless bent to no relieving.

Vows and oaths and faith assur'd,
Constant ever,
Changing never,
Yet she could not be procur'd,
To believe my pains exceeding,
From her scant neglect proceeding.

O that love should have the art,
By surmises,
And disguises,
To destroy a faithful heart,
Or that wanton-looking women,
Should reward their friends as foeman.

All in vain is ladies' love,
Quickly choosed,
Shortly loosed,
For their pride is to remove,
Out alas their looks first won us,
And their pride hath straight undone us.

To thyself the sweetest fair,
Thou hast wounded,
And confounded,
Changeless faith with foul despair,
And my service hath envied,
And my succours hath denied.

By thine error thou hast lost,
Heart unfeigned,
Truth unstained,
And the swain that loved most,
More assur'd in love than many
More despis'd in love than any.

For my heart though set at nought,
Since you will it,
Spoil and kill it,
I will never change my thoughts,
But grieve that Beauty e'er was born,
And so I'll live as one forlorn. 

Wofull heart with griefe opressed

Structure: g-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 2 St.
Comment: This song requires a sustained legato line.

Woeful heart with grief oppressed,
Since my fortunes most distressed,
From my joys hath me removed,
Follow those sweet eyes adored,
Those sweet eyes wherein are stored,
All my pleasures best beloved.

Fly my breast, leave me forsaken,
Wherein Grief his seat hath taken,
All his arrows through me darting,
Thou may'st live by her sun-shining,
I shall suffer no more pining,
By thy loss, than by her parting. 

A Sheperd in a shade his plaining made

Structure: g-minor/major, 4/4 rhythm, 2 St.
Comment: A sweet and gentle song. Some sources print this song as three stanzas, using the last four lines of first stanza for second stanza as well.

A shepherd in a shade, his plaining made,
Of love and lovers´ wrong,
Unto the fairest lass that trod on grass,
And thus began his song.
Since love and fortune will, I honour still,
Your fair and lovely eye,
What conquest will it be, sweet nymph for thee,
If I for sorrow die.
Restore, restore my heart again,
Which love by thy sweet looks hath slain,
Lest that enforc'd by your disdain, I sing,
Fie fie on love, it is a foolish thing.

My heart where have you laid, O cruel maid,
To kill when you might save,
Why have ye cast it forth as nothing worth,
Without a tomb or grave.
O let it be entomb'd and lie,
In your sweet mind and memory,
Lest I resound on every warbling string,
Fie fie on love, that is a foolish thing. 

Faction that euer dwells in court

Structure: G-major, 4/4 rhythm, 5 St.
Comment: The poem is from Fulke Greville. Dowland omits his second stanza.

Faction that ever dwells,
In Court where wits excels
Hath set defiance,
Fortune and Love hath sworn,
That they were never born,
Of one alliance.

Fortune swears, weakest hearts
The book of Cupid´s arts
Turn with her wheel,
Senses themselves shall prove
Venture her place in love
Ask them that feel.

This discord I begot
Atheist, that Honour not
Nature thought good,
Fortune should ever dwell
In Court where wits excel
Love keep the wood.

So to the wood went I
With Love to live and die
Fortune forlorn,
Experience of my youth
Made me think humble Truth
In desert born.

My saint is dear to me,
And Joan herself is she
Joan fair and true,
Joan that doth ever move,
Passions of love with love
Fortune adieu. 

Shall I sue, shall I seeke for grace

Structure: g-minor, 3/2 rhythm, 4 St.
Comment: Some collections give a rather slow and smoothly tempo. Ignoring the barlines, the rhythm appears to be 2/2 starting with an upbeat crotchet, which suggests a fairly fast tempo.

Shall I sue shall I seek for grace?
Shall I pray shall I prove?
Shall I strive to a heav`nly joy,
With an earthly love?
Shall I think that a bleeding heart
Or a wounded eye,
Or a sigh can ascend the clouds
To attain so high.

Silly wretch forsake these dreams,
Of a vain desire,
O bethink what high regard,
Holy hopes do require.
Favour is as fair as things are,
Treasure is not bought,
Favour is not won with words,
Nor the wish of a thought.

Pity is but a poor defence,
For a dying heart,
Ladies` eyes respect no moan,
In a mean desert.
She is too worthy far,
For a worth so base,
Cruel and but just is she,
In my just disgrace.

Justice gives each man his own,
Though my love be just,
Yet will not she pity my grief,
Therefore die I must,
Silly heart then yield to die,
Perish in despair,
Witness yet how fain I die,
When I die for the fair. 

Finding in fields my Siluia all alone (Toss not my soul)

Structure: g-minor, 4/4 rhythm, 2 St.

Toss not my soul, O Love 'twixt hope and fear,
Show me some ground where I may firmly stand
Or surely fall, I care not which appear,
So one will close me in a certain band.

When once of ill be uttermost is known,
The strength of sorrow quite is overthrown.

Take me assurance to thy blissful hold,
Or thou Despair unto thy darkest cell.
Each hath full rest, the one in joys enrolled,
Th'other, in that he fears no more, is well:

When once of ill be uttermost is known,
The strength of sorrow quite is overthrown. 

Cleare or Cloudie sweet as Aprill showring

Structure: G-major, 4/4 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: A fresh and delightful melody. The poem is a little obscure in places the general drift of meaning is clear enough. In the refrain Dowland provided an optional descant for treble viol.

Clear or cloudy sweet as April show'ring,
Smooth or frowning so is her face to me,
Pleas'd or smiling like mild May all flow'ring,
When skies blue silk meadows carpets be,
Her speeches notes of that night-bird that singeth,
Who thought all sweet yet jarring notes out-ringeth.

Her grace like June, when earth an trees be trimm'd,
In best attire of complete beauty's height,
Her love again like summer's days be dimm'd,
With little clouds of doubtful constant faith,
Her trust her doubt, like rain and heat in skies,
Gently thund'ring, she lightning to my eyes.

Sweet summer-spring that breatheth life and growing,
In weeds as into healing herbs and flow'rs,
And sees of service divers sorts in sowing,
Some haply seeming and some being yours,
Rain on your herbs and flow'rs that truly serve,
And let your weeds lack dew and duly starve. 

Humor say what makst thou heere

Structure: G-major, 3/2 rhythm, 3 St.
Comment: This song is in a dialogue form.

1st Voice - Humour say what mak'st thou here,
In the presence of a queen,
2nd Voice - Princes hold conceit most dear,
All conceit in humour seen.
1st Voice - Thou art a heavy leaden mood,
2nd Voice - Humour in Invention's food.
Both - But never Humour yet was true,
But that which only pleaseth you.

1st Voice - O, I am as heavy as earth,
Say then who is Humour now.
2nd Voice - Ia am now inclined to mirth,
Humour I as well as thou.
1st Voice - Why then 'tis I am drowned in woe,
2nd Voice - No no Wit is cherish'd so,
Both - But never Humour yet was true,
But that which only pleaseth you.

1st Voice - Mirth then is drown'd in Sorrow's brim,
O, in sorrow all things sleep.
2nd Voice - No no fool the light'st things swim,
Heavy things sink to the deep.
1st Voice - In her presence all things smile,
2nd Voice - Humour frolic then awhile.
Both - But never Humour yet was true,
But that which only pleaseth you. 

Dowland's Adieu for Master Oliver Cromwell

Structure: g-minor, 2/2 rhythm.
Comment: A practice piece for lute and bass-viol.