Biography of John Wilbye
John Wilbye, was an English madrigal composer.
The son of a tanner, he was born at Brome, Suffolk, near Diss, and received the patronage of the Cornwallis family. It is thought that he accompanied Elizabeth Cornwallis to Hengrave Hall near Bury St. Edmunds circa 1594 when she married Sir Thomas Kytson the Younger.
A set of madrigals by him appeared in 1598 and a second in 1608, the two sets containing sixty-four pieces. In 1600, he was chosen to proofread John Dowland's Second Booke of Songs. In 1628, on the death of Elizabeth Cornwallis, Wilbye went to live with her daughter Mary Darcy, Countess Rivers in Colchester, where he died. He is buried in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church, in Colchester town centre. (The building is currently the CO1 cafe and young Christian centre.)
Wilbye is probably the most famous of all the English madrigalists; his pieces have long been favourites and are often included in modern collections. His madrigals include Weep, weep o mine eyes and Draw on, sweet night. He also wrote the poem, Love me not for comely grace. His style is characterized by delicate writing for the voice, acute sensitivity to the text and the use of "false relations" between the major and minor modes.
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John Wilbye Poems
Love Not Me for Comely Grace
Love not me for comely grace, For my pleasing eye or face; Nor for any outward part, No, nor for my constant heart:
Adieu sweet amaryllis
Adieu, adieu sweet amaryllis. For since to part your will is. O heavy tiding
Flora gave me fairest flowers
Flora gave me fairest flowers, None so fair in Flora's treasure: These I plac'd on Phillis' bowers, She was pleas'd, and she my pleasure
As matchless beauty
As matchless beauty thee a Phoenix proves, Fair Leonilla, so thy sour-sweet loves. For when young Acon's eye thy proud heart tames, Thou diest in him, and livest in my flames.
Ah! cannot sighs not tears
Ah! cannot sighs not tears, nor aught else move thee To pity me, who more than life do love thee? O cruel fates! see, now away she’s flying, And fly, alas! alas! and leave me dying.
Fly not so swift, my dear
Fly not so swift, my dear, behold me dying, If not a smiling glance for all my crying, Yet kill me with thy frowns. The Satyrs o'er the lawns full nimbly dancing
Cruel, behold my heavy ending
Cruel, behold my heavy ending, See what you wrought by your disdaining. Causeless I die, love still attending Your hopeless pity of my complaining
Ah! cruel Amarillis
Ah! cruel Amarillis, since thou tak’st delight To hear the accents of a doleful ditty, To triumph still without remorse or pity; I loathe this life,death must my sorrow right;
Despiteful thus unto myself, I languish
Despiteful thus unto myself, I languish, And in disdain, myself from joy I banish, These secret thoughts enwrap me so in anguish, That life, I hope. will soon from body vanish
Hard destinies are love and beauty parte...
Hard destinies are love and beauty parted, Fair Daphne so disdainful! Cupid, thy shafts are too unjustly darted; Fond love, thy wounds are painful
Lady, when I behold the roses sprouting
Lady, when I behold the roses sprouting, Which clad in damask mantles deck the arbours, And then behold your lips, where sweet Love harbours, My eyes present me with a double doubting.
Sweet honey-sucking bees
Sweet honey-sucking bees, why do you still surfeit on roses, pinks and violets, as if the choicest nectar lay in them wherewith you store your curious cabinets?
As fair as morn
As fair as morn, as fresh as May, a pretty grace in saying nay, Smil'st thou sweetheart? then sing and say, Ta na na no,
Weep, O mine eyes
Weep, O mine eyes and cease not, Out alas, these your spring tides methinks increase not. O when begin you to swell so high that I may drown me in you?
Draw on, Sweet Night
Draw on, Sweet Night, friend unto those cares
That do arise from painful melancholy.
My life so ill through want of comfort fares,
that unto thee I consecrate it wholly.
Sweet Night, draw on
My griefs when they be told to shades
and darkness find some ease from paining,
And while thou all in silence dost enfold,
I then shall have best time for my complaining.