Let us, kind Lesbia, give away
was an anonymous translation of Catullus’s ‘Epigram 5’ Viveam mea Lesbia
. Purcell’s song was published in the fifth book of Choice Ayres and Songs
in 1684. His setting of the devil-may-care (not to say rather risqué) text was suitably colourful: whilst there is the opportunity to indulge in ‘soft embraces all the day’, that chance should be seized, for death will put an end to such pleasures. In the triple-time duet the lovers prepare to put their theories into practice. If anyone should criticize, they will counter such censoriousness ‘with one more kiss’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003