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The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive

A Nation of Cowslips

Song Cycle by Dominick Argento (b. 1927)


1. The Devon maid [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

Authorship

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Where be [ye]1 going, you Devon Maid? 
   And what have ye there in the Basket? 
Ye tight little fairy just fresh from the dairy, 
   Will ye give me some cream if I ask it? 

I love your Meads, and I love your flowers, 
   And I love your junkets mainly, 
But 'hind the door I love kissing more, 
   O look not so disdainly. 

I love your hills, and I love your dales, 
   And I love your flocks a-bleating -- 
But O, on the heather to lie together, 
   With both our hearts a-beating! 

I'll put your Basket all safe in [a]2 nook, 
   Your shawl [I]3 hang up on the willow, 
And we will sigh in the daisy's eye 
   And kiss on [a]2 grass green pillow.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bridge, Quilter: "you"
2 Bridge: "the"
3 Bridge, Quilter: "I'll"


2. In praise of Apollo [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

Authorship


Hence burgundy, claret, and port,
   Away with old hock and madeira!
Too earthly ye are for my sport;
   There's a beverage brighter and clearer!
Instead of a pitiful rummer,
My wine overbrims a whole summer;
      My bowl is the sky,
      And I drink at my eye,
      Till I feel in the brain
      A Delphian pain --
Then follow, my Caius, then follow!
      On the green of the hill,
      We will drink our fill
      Of golden sunshine,
      Till our brains intertwine
With the glory and grace of Apollo!


3. On visiting Oxford [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

Authorship


The Gothic looks solemn,
The plain Doric column
Supports an old Bishop and Crosier;
The mouldering arch,
Shaded o'er by a larch
Stands next door to Wilson the Hosier.

Vice -- that is, by turns, --
O'er pale faces mourns
The black tassell'd trencher and common hat;
The Chantry boy sings,
The Steeple-bell rings,
And as for the Chancellor -- dominat.

There are plenty of trees,
And plenty of ease,
And plenty of fat deer for Parsons;
And when it is venison,
Short is the benison, --
Then each on a leg or thigh fastens.

Also titled "On Oxford"


4. A party of lovers at tea [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

Authorship


Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes,
Nibble their toast, and cool their tea with sighs,
Or else forget the purpose of the night,
Forget their tea -- forget their appetite.
See with cross'd arms they sit -- ah! happy crew,
The fire is going out and no one rings
For coals, and therefore no coals Betty brings.
A fly is in the milk-pot -- must he die
By a humane society?
No, no; there Mr. Werter takes his spoon,
Inserts it, dips the handle, and lo! soon
The little straggler, sav'd from perils dark,
Across the teaboard draws a long wet mark.
Arise! take snuffers by the handle,
There's a large cauliflower in each candle.
A winding-sheet, ah me! I must away
To No. 7, just beyond the circus gay.
'Alas, my friend! your coat sits very well;
Where may your tailor live?' 'I may not tell.
O pardon me -- I'm absent now and then.
Where might my tailor live? I say again
I cannot tell, let me no more be teaz'd --
He lives in Wapping, might live where he pleas'd.'

First published in World, New York: June 1877


5. Sharing Eve's apple [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

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O blush not so! O blush not so!
Or I shall think you knowing;
And if you smile the blushing while,
Then maidenheads are going.

There's a blush for want, and a blush for shan't,
And a blush for having done it;
There's a blush for thought, and a blush for nought,
And a blush for just begun it.

O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
For it sounds of Eve's sweet pippin;
By these loosen'd lips you have tasted the pips
And fought in an amorous nipping.

Will you play once more at nice-cut-core,
For it only will last our youth out,
And we have the prime of the kissing time,
We have not one sweet tooth out.

There's a sigh for aye, and a sigh for nay,
And a sigh for "I can't bear it!"
O what can be done, shall we stay or run?
O cut the sweet apple and share it!


6. There was a naughty boy [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

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There was a naughty boy,
  A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
  He could not quiet be --
    He took
    In his knapsack
    A book
    Full of vowels
    And a shirt
    With some towels,
    A slight cap
    For night cap,
    A hair brush,
    Comb ditto,
    New stockings
    For old ones
    Would split O!
    This knapsack
    Tight at's back
    He rivetted close
  And followed his nose
    To the north,
    To the north,
  And follow'd his nose
    To the north.

There was a naughty boy
  And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
  But scribble poetry --
    He took
    An ink stand
    In his hand
    And a pen
    Big as ten
    In the other,
    And away
    In a pother
    He ran
    To the mountains
    And fountains
    And ghostes
    And postes
    And witches
    And ditches
    And wrote
    In his coat
    When the weather
    Was cool,
    Fear of gout,
    And without
    When the weather
    Was warm --
    Och the charm
    When we choose
  To follow one's nose
    To the north,
    To the north,
  To follow one's nose
    To the north!

There was a naughty boy
  And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
  In washing tubs three
    In spite
    Of the might
    Of the maid
    Nor afraid
    Of his Granny-good --
    He often would
    Hurly burly
    Get up early
    And go
    By hook or crook
    To the brook
    And bring home
    Miller's thumb,
    Tittlebat
    Not over fat,
    Minnows small
    As the stall
    Of a glove,
    Not above
    The size
    Of a nice
    Little baby's
    Little fingers --
    O he made
    'Twas his trade
  Of fish a pretty kettle
    A kettle --
    A kettle
  Of fish a pretty kettle
    A kettle!

There was a naughty boy,
  And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
  The people for to see --
    There he found
    That the ground
    Was as hard,
    That a yard
    Was as long,
    That a song
    Was as merry,
    That a cherry
    Was as red,
    That lead
    Was as weighty,
    That fourscore
    Was as eighty,
    That a door
    Was as wooden
    As in England --
  So he stood in his shoes
    And he wonder'd,
    He wonder'd,
  He stood in his
    Shoes and he wonder'd.


7. Two or three posies [
 text not verified 
]

Language: English

Authorship

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Two or three posies
With two or three simples -
Two or three noses
With two or three pimples -
Two or three wisemen
And two or three ninnies -
Two or three purses
And two or three guineas -
Two or three raps
At two or three doors -
Two or three naps
Of two or three hours -
Two or three cats
And two or three mice -
Two or three sprats
At a very great price -
Two or three sandies
And two or three tabbies -
Two or three dandies
And two Mrs -- mum!
Two or three smiles
And two or three frowns -
Two or three miles
To two or three towns -
Two or three pegs
For two or three bonnets -
Two or three dove's eggs
To hatch into sonnets.


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