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From A Handefull of Pleasant Delites, &c, London, 1584, as reprinted in Park's Heliconia, vol. ii. p. 23. It is there entitled A New Courtly Sonet of the Lady Greensleeves. To the new Tune of Greensleeves.
" The earliest mention of the ballad of Green Sleeves, in the Registers of the Stationers' Company, is in SePYEmber, 1580, when Richard Jones had licensed to him A New Northern Ditlye of the Lady Green Sleeves."
" Green Sleeves, or Which nobody can deny, has been a favorite tune from the time of Elizabeth to the present day, and is still frequently to be heard in the streets of London to songs with the old burden, Which nobody can deny. It will also be recognized as the air of Christmas comes but once a year, and many another merry ditty." Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 227.
Greensleeves is twice alluded to by Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor; Act ii. Se. 1; Act v. Sc. 5.
Alas, my love, ye do me wrong To cast me oft discurteously, And I have loved you so long, Delighting in your companie.
Greensleeves was all my joy, Greensleeves was my delight,