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Another shepherd you did see,
To whom your heart was soon enchained.
Full soon your love was leapt from me,
Full soon my place he had obtained.
Soon came a third your love to win,
And we were out and he was in.
Sure you have made me passing glad
That you your mind so soon removed,
Before that I the leisure had
To choose you for my best beloved.
For all my love was past and done
Two days before it was begun.
By a Fountainside comes from Act I Scene 2 of Ben Jonson’s masque Cynthia’s Revels of 1600, though Quilter may have found the words in Henry Youll’s Canzonets to Three Voices published eight years later. This is a fine song, musically the most elaborate of the set, with a magical move to the major key half way through. The last song of the set, Fair House of Joy has taken on a life of its own, being a perennial favourite at music festivals throughout the country. It would be interesting to know how many of the performers understand the meaning of the first two lines, which could be paraphrased thus: ‘I wish I could sing according to the rules, for I think singing love songs is harmful.’
from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1996
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