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Willow, from a 13th century Italian herbal MS


A BALLAD OF THE GREEN WILLOW*

All a green willow, willow;
All a green willow is my garland.


Alas! by what mean may I make ye to know
The unkindness for kindness that to me doth grow?
That one who most kind love on me should bestow,
Most unkind unkindness to me doth show?
      For all the green willow is my garland.

To have love, and hold love, where love is so sped,
Oh, delicate food to the lover so fed!
From love won to love lost where lovers be led,
Oh desperate dolour! the lover is dead;
      For all the green willow is my garland.

She said she did love me, and would love me still;1
She sware above all men I had her good will;
She said and she sware she would my will fulfil—
The promise all good, the performance all ill;
      For all the green willow is my garland.

Now, woe worth the willow, and woe worth the wight2
That windeth willow, willow garland to dight;3
That dole4 dealt in alms is all amiss quite,
Where lovers are beggers for alms in sight;
      No lover doth beg for this willow garland.

Of this willow garland the burden seem'th small,
But my break-neck burden I may it well call;
Like the sow5 of lead on my head it doth fall,
Break head, and break neck, back, bones, brain, heart, and all;
      All parts pressed in pieces.

Too ill for her think I best things may be had;
Too good for me thinketh she things being most bad;
All I do present her that may make her glad;
All she doth present me that make me sad;
      This equity6 have I with this willow garland.

Could I forget thee as thou canst forget me,
That were my sound salve, which cannot nor shall be;
Though thou like the soaring hawk every way flee,
I will be the turtle7 most steadfast still to thee;
      And patiently wear this green willow garland.

All ye that have had love, and have my like wrong,
My like truth and patience plant still you among;
When feminine fancies for new love do long,
Old love cannot hold them, new love is so strong
      For all.

FINIS QD. HEYWOOD.



[AJ Notes:]
* The willow tree was symbolic of melancholy; the willow garland
was an emblem of the forsaken lover.
1. Forever.
2. Man; creature.
3. Bedeck; adorn.
4. Share; charity.
5. Ingot.
6. Balance; This thing in common.
7. Turtledove, symbol of faithfulness in love.



Source:
Farmer, John S., ed. The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood.
London: Early English Drama Society, 1906. 303-304.




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