Illustration of a lute

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today’s poem is a song by John Dowland. Dowland was a composer, lutenist and poet during a time when England was producing many poets and composers. Dowland took inspiration from both traditional and new musical forms in England and during his travels through Europe. From this combination of influences he produced some of the best regarded Renaissance lute songs. In the twentieth century musicians started playing music from the Renaissance period again – both using period instruments (the lute) and the guitar – which has led to niche but impressive resurgence in the popularity of this beautiful music.

Today we are reading “Weep you no more, sad fountains:”

“Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven’s sun doth gently waste!
But my sun’s heavenly eyes,
View not your weeping,
That now lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies

Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that peace begets;
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at ev’n he sets?
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes!
Melt not in weeping,
While she lies sleeping,
Softly, now softly lies

We are lucky enough to have access to many recordings of Dowlands music via our Naxos Music Library – members of Richmond upon Thames Borough Libraries can search “John Dowland” for all recordings or search by the first line of this poem for versions of it. You can find these lyrics on Project Gutenberg. Members of Richmond upon Thames Borough Libraries can read more about Dowland in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online.

Join us tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!