The Lyrics of Henry VIII/I haue bene a foster, Cooper
|← It is to me a ryght gret Ioy||Fare well my Ioy and my swete hart →|
I haue bene a foster
long and many a day
foster wyl I be no more
no lenger shote I may
yet haue I bene a foster 5
Hange I wyl my nobyl bow
vpon the grene wod bough
For I can nott shote in playne
nor yett in rough
yet hue I bene a foster 10
Euery bowe for me ys to bygge
myne arow ny worne ys.
The glew ys slypt frome the nyk
when I shuld shoote I myse
yet haue. I bene a foster 15
Lady venus hath commaundyd me
owt of her courte to go.
Ryght playnly she shewith me
that beawtye ys my foo.
yet haue. I. b.ene a foster 20
My berd ys so hard god wote
when I shulde maydyns kysse
Thay stand abak and make it strange.
lo age ys cause of this.
yet haue I bene a foster 25
Now will I take to me my bedes
for and my santes booke.
And pray I wyll for them that may
for I may nowght but loke.
yet haue I bene a foster 30
As with other forester songs in H, this lyric explicitly exploits and draws attention to the double-entendre of the forester songs as a whole. This move is especially evident in the shift in the fourth and fifth stanzas (ll. 16–25) to a direct address of the courtly love topos. Flood (64–65) assigns this lyric to the play presented by Cornish at Windsor, 15 June 1522, in which a keeper, three foresters, and four hunters took part, as well as Cornish’s Children of the Chapel Royal. See also the commentary and notes to Cornish’s “Yow and I and amyas” (H 35) and “Blow thi hornne hunter” (H 29), as well as that of the unattributed “I am a joly foster” (H 50), which appears to be in answer to this lyric. Also, as noted below, Cooper’s text and melody imitate that of the unattributed “y haue ben afoster long and meney day” in LRit (f. 53v), and shares many of the same sentiments, though not necessarily the explicit double-meaning of the forester lyrics; this text follows:
y haue ben afoster long and meney day,
my lockes ben ho re,
foster woll y be no more
y shall hong vp my horne by the greene wode spray
my lookes ben hore,
Foster will y be no mor
All the whiles that y may bowe bend
shall y wedde no wyffe,
my bowe bend shall y wedde now wiffe,
wiffe I shall bygges me a boure atte the wodes ende
ther to lede my lyffe
att the wodes end, ther to lede my lyfe
- 1 foster Forester.
- 4 no lenger shote I may Cf. the sentiment of Cornish’s “Blow thi hornne hunter” (H 29.22).
- 8 in playne On open ground, in the meadow, &c. (OED “plain” n.1 1.a).
- 9 in rough On rough or broken ground (OED n.1 2.a, b).
- 13 glew ys slypt frome the nyk Arrows were sometimes spliced with heavier wood and the “nock” to counterbalance the weight of the metal head; if the glue failed, the arrow would become unserviceable (noted by Greene ).
- 23 make it strange Estrange or remove themselves (OED “strange” 5).
- 26 bedes Beads.
- 27 for and And moreover (OED conj. 5). santes booke Book of saints’ lives.
The first stanza of “I haue bene a foster,” the burden, is through-set for three voices and the remaining text is underlaid. The initial text and melody imitates that of “y haue ben afoster long and meney day” (LRit 53v; Robbins Index & Suppl. 1303.3, Ringler MS TM643), but Cooper’s lyric deviates from that in LRit and is extended; see the commentary, above.
“I haue bene a foster” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 1303.5, Ringler MS TM518, and Crum I193. It is reprinted in Chappell Music 1.50, Flügel Anglia 244, Greene 313–4, Stevens M&P 408–9, and Stevens MCH8 48.
H1,2,3 (ff. 65v–66r, ll. 1–5 H2,3).
- 29 I] ms omits
- See L&P Henry VIII (III[ii] #2305), PRO SP1/24 (231v ff.), Hall (641), and CSP Spanish (II #437).