Back to Cowslip (1)
COWSLIP . Welsh, Country Dance Tune (4/4 time). D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Cowslip is an herb, sometimes called a Fairy Cup. It is mentioned in Shakespeare in connection with the fairy Ariel:
Where the bee sucks, there lurk I;
In a Cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry;
On a bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
"The fine small crimson drops in the Cowslip's chalice are said to possess the rare virtue of preserving, and even restoring, youthful bloom and beauty; for these ruddy spots are fairy favours, and therefore have enchanted value." Shakespeare says of this flower of the Fays:
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The Cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours:
In those freckles live their saviors. ... [Quoted from Richard Folkard, Plant Lore, Legends and Lyrics, 1884]
The melody appears in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1794, p. 179).
Source for notated version:
Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 24.