Greensleeves

Greensleeves

Updated Aug 21, 2014 at 10:19PM EDT by Twenty-One.

Added Apr 01, 2013 at 03:59PM EDT by Platus.

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About

"Greensleeves" is an English folk ballad that first arose in the late 16th century. Though its exact origins are obscure, one of the first written records of its existence is in a broadside publication registered in 1580 under the title "A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves." The song has since been referenced in numerous cultural works – including Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor – and has since become a standard leitmotif for the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It has also been remixed and covered numerous times.[1]

Lyrics

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Chorus:
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves.

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.

chorus

I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.

chorus

If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.

chorus

My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

chorus

Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

chorus

Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.

chorus

Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.

chorus[2]


Authorship and Interpretation



As with many songs from its period, the exact authorship for "Greensleeves" is unknown. It was at one time believed that England's King Henry VIII had composed it for Anne Boleyn, who had at the time been rejecting his advances – leading to the line "To cast me off discourteously." However, it is much more likely that the song is Elizabethan in origin, as its tune fits with a kind of ballad that did not come to England from Italy until Elizabeth I's time.


Greensleeves www.traditionalmusic.co.uk Em Em Bm Em Bm Em Bm Em Em Bm

The lyrics themselves have also been subject to close discussion. One common reading says that "greensleeves" was a slang term for a promiscuous woman or a prostitute, meaning that her sleeves are green from the grass stains she would get from having sex outside. Another common interpretation says that the narrator of the song only thinks that the woman is promiscuous, and that her turning him down is, in fact, evidence to the contrary.

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Greensleeves

[2] U of Idaho Arthurian Legend Archive – Greensleeves

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