|Share page||Visit Us On FB|
ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC
The song of Oh! willow, willow, which Desdemona sings in the fourth act of Othello, is contained in a MS. volume of songs, with accompaniment for the lute, in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 15,117). Mr. Halliwell considers the transcript to have been made about the year 1633; Mr. Oliphant (who catalogued the musical MS.) dates it about 1600; but the manuscript undoubtedly contains songs of an earlier- time, such as—
" O death ! rock me asleep, Bring me to qniet rest," &c.
attributed to Anne Boleyn, and which Sir John Hawkins found in a MS. of the reign of Henry VHI.
The song of Willow, wiUoio, is also in the Roxburghe Ballads, i. 54; and was printed by Percy from a copy in the Pepys Collection, entitled " A Lover's Complaint, being forsaken of his Love: to a pleasant tune."
Willow, willow, was a favorite burden for songs in the sixteenth century. There is one by John Heywood, a favorite dramatist and court musician of the reigns of Henry VHI. and Queen Mary, beginning—
" Alas. I by what mean may I make ye to know The unkindness for kindness that to me doth grow ? "
which has for the burden—
"All a green willow; willow, willow, willow; All a green willow, is my garland."
It has been printed by Mr. Halliwell, with others by Heywood, Bedford, &c, for the Shakespeare Society, in a volume containing the moral play of Wit and Science.
Another with the burden—
" Willow, willow, willow; sing all of green willow; Sing all of green willow, shall be my garland,"
will be found in A Gorgious Gallery of Gallant Inventions (1578). It commences thus:
" My love, what misliking in me do you find, Sing all of green willow; That on such a sudden you alter your mind ?
Sing willow, willow, willow. What cause doth compel you so fickle to be,
Willow, willow, willow, willow; In heart which yon plighted most loyal to me ?
Willow, willow, willow, willow."—Heliconia, i. 32.
In Fletcher's The two Noble Kinsmen, when the Jailer's daughter went mad for love, " She sung nothing but WiUoio, willow, willow."—-Act iv., sc. 1.
Li the tragedy of Othello, Desdemona introduces the song " in this pathetic arid affecting manner:"