a tabloid on the high

And thus we arrive at the dramatic collapse of quality, mentioned in the prelude. True love is the summit of poetry, causing ‘True Love’ to adress his mistress in nothing but first rate lines, even when some of them may hide a suspect double bottom. And his song culminates in this marvellous statement:

Journeys end in lovers meeting

The deeper meaning may be rather sensed than understood, but there is no doubt Shakespeare in just five words touches the heart of all what really matters in life. But then in sharp contrast the next triplet, adressed to the other lady, proposes a one-night stand under the thinnest of covers:

What is love? ‘t is not hereafter;
What is love? it will not outlive this encounter,

Present mirth hath present laughter;
Like a laugh will not outlive a pleasant mood,

What’s to come is still unsure.
What comes after this, you’ll find out soon enough.

And in the final triplet even this transparant veil of imagery is bluntly torn away. Look as carefully as you like, these lines have nothing to do with poetry. Rhyme and meter are perfect, yet no word adds anything to the bare truth it spells out:

In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me sweet-and-twenty,

 Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

The choice of words may soften the impact a little, but the message for the young lady, who is not even adressed by name, is clear:

Delay adds nothing to it:
Therefore kiss me nice young thing,

Youth must be consumated fresh.

I can be wrong of course, but I always thought that true love gets enriched by postponing things. And, as if this opposing opinion is not stated bluntly enough already, the final line allows this interpretation as well:

You can’t stay young for ever.

Which suggests ‘youth’ to represent that inexperience in adult matters, which is spelled out as ‘virginity’. Making the triplet to sound like some kind of encouragement to an apprentice girl in a brothel. It is just a personal interpretation, so think twice before deriving your opinion on ‘True Love’ from it, but the initial rephrasing already betrays him to sing a very low part indeed. His tune is not uncommon, is a traditional even, but still, he would not like some musician to write it down in order to preserve this piece of cultural heritage for future generations. Making it a real embarrassment to hear a renowned composer proclaim:

My music shows ye have your closes

And what is even worse; all words of SD are carefully chosen to make the Part Songs a coherent story dealing with lack of virtue. Hís lack of virtue to be precise: The chapter Two short pieces for children demonstrates which way the outer pair become one, when linked by music that exactly reveals the kind of intercourse between them. And this, again, is to be taken literally. ‘To become one’ is the poetic phrasing of       CENSORED

It is even under today’s liberal vice laws not recommendable to proceed this line of reasoning any further in public cyberspace. A setback providing me with a marvellous opportunity to set you another challenge (see postlude). Meanwhile something tells me that this tuning in by SD with OMM’s music, to be rather a-typical to the works of a reverend minister of the Gospel, who during his life time, was known in his parish as ‘Holy Mr. Herbert’. The words ‘my music’ on the other hand, are not really a-typical to a composer. Which leads irresistably to the notion that unreliable datings have not necessarily be restricted to the music of these songs only. And this incorrect line of reasoning (later inquiries into the origins of SD proved it to be a genuine Herbert), answers the question correctly which I have untill now carefully avoided:


Sweet Day supplies in its ambiguity all information needed for a good explanation, but only in entanglement with OMM; three quatrains are no reversion of four triplets for nothing. So it is time to turn two verses upside down again. And to notice that a mistress in late Victorian time used to be ‘the other woman’:

Virtue Reduced

Sweet season of love, full of sweet days and girls,
A season overcrowded with sweethearts,
My music shows your have your secrets;
——-And all must ‘die’.

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
Uniting high and low (in an impossible love-song).
The ‘dew’ (only) will weep your fall (into sin) tonight,
——-For you must ‘die’.

These two verses, featuring love in an unforced order, preceed a statement with a sharp contrasting final word: ‘to live’ against ‘to die’. This final word is combined with ‘chiefly’; a little odd to express eternal life, but very to the point in discussing people whose private affairs certainly do matter. This is a limited field, the more as, according to SD anyway, the person it accuses must be elderly – the calm and bright day being cool indicates a late season of life – and ranking high in two very different worlds. But this authority does not allow him to exercise power on society at will. He seems to be only other people’s ‘bridle of both earth (read: state) and sky (read: heaven, meaning: church)’.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul
has the strength to resist temptation.
And even when everybody blackens himself,
——-Lives in a way that befits a ruler.

Therefore it is very likely that ‘THREE ELIZABETHAN PART SONGS’ were as a cycle first performed somewhere in the years 1901-1910; in honour of King Edward VII of England.

Klaas Alberts
21 March 1991

go to postlude –      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – back to the previous chapter