Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow?

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HAVE YOU SEEN BUT A WHITE LILY GROW? English, Air (4/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The words and music are attributed to Ben Jonson and lutenist Robert Johnson (c. 1550–1625). The story of the song is given in Vincent Jackson's English Melodies (1910, p. 40 as "See the Chariot at Hand"), who explains the poem appeared in installments, the first (stanza iii) in 1615. It goes:

Have you seen but a bright lily grow
Before rude hands have touched it?
Have you marked but the fall of snow
Before the soil hath smutched it?
Have you felt the wool of beaver,
Or swan's down ever?
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier,
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she!


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Kines (Songs from Shakespeare's Plays and Popular Songs of Shakespeare's Time), 1964; p. 68.

Recorded sources:




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