‘Touch but thy Lire (my Harrie)’: Henry Lawes and the Mirthful Music of <i>Hesperides</i>

Stacey Jocoy

in ‘Lords of Wine and Oile’

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604777
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729355 | DOI:
‘Touch but thy Lire (my Harrie)’: Henry Lawes and the Mirthful Music of Hesperides

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Though it is clear that Herrick and Henry Lawes knew and respected each other’s work, little attention has been given to their collaborative efforts. Here, in contrast to the melancholy or declamatory airs for which Lawes is mostly known, we find mirthful pieces set in a ‘tuneful’ manner. Solo voices jauntily bespeak of quarrelling cupids (‘About the sweet bag of a bee’) or would-be lovers (‘Am I dispis’d’), while rollicking triple-time choruses deliver the cheerful resolutions. In sympathy with Herrick, Lawes’ music for such poetry almost sounds like secular hymns and anthems for a doctrine of mirth. This study provides a list of Lawes' musical settings for Herrick’s poems from the mid-seventeenth century and suggests how better to understand their collaborative style and how they may have hoped to use their combined cultural influence in the service of the king.

Keywords: Henry Lawes; royalism; Civil War; mirthful songs; musical settings; collaboration; performance

Chapter.  8391 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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