When younglings first - But when by proof (William Byrd)

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  • (Posted 2003-07-07)  CPDL #05316:        (Sibelius 4)
Editor: David Fraser (submitted 2003-07-07).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 243 kB    Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Revised Oct 2021 (formatting, editorial).

General Information

Title: When younglings first - But when by proof
Composer: William Byrd

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicing: STT
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1589 in Songs of sundrie natures, no. 10–11

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

When younglings first on Cupid fix their sight,
and see him naked, blindfold and a boy,
though bow and shafts and firebrand be his might,
yet ween they he can work them none annoy.
And therefore with his purple wings they play,
for glorious seemeth love though light as feather,
and when they have done, they ween to scape away,
for blind men they say, shoot they know not whither.

But when by proof they find that he did see,
and that his wound did rather dim their sight,
they wonder more how such a lad as he,
should be of such surpassing power and might
but ants have galls, so hath the bee his sting,
then shield me heavens from such a subtle thing.