The Lyrics of Henry VIII/The tyme of youthe is to be spent, Henry VIII

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Lyrics  |  Manuscript  |  Authors and Composers
The Lyrics of Henry VIII
Appendix 1: Lyrics by Occasion/Theme  |  Appendix 2: Textual/Musical Witnesses  |  Appendix 3: Bibliography

Whoso that wyll hym selff applye The thowghtes within my brest

[ff. 28v-29r]

The Kynge. H.viij

Early Modern English                                         Modern English
The tyme of youthe is to be spent The time of youth is to be spent,
but vice in it shuld be forfent But vice in it should be forfent.
Pastymes ther be I nought trewlye. Pastimes there be I note truly
Whych one may use. and uice deyne. Which one may use and vice deny.
And they be plesant to god and man. And they be pleasant to God and man:
Those shuld we couit wyn who can. Those should we covet when we can.
As featys of armys. and suche other. As feats of arms, and such other.
Wherby actyuenesse oon may vtter. Whereby activeness one may utter.
Comparysons in them may lawfully be sett. Comparisons in them may lawfully be set,
For therby corage is suerly owt fet. For, thereby, courage is surely out fet.
Vertue it is. then youth for to spend. Vertue it is, then, youth for to spend
In goode dysporttys whych it dothe fend. In good disports which it does fend.

Textual Commentary[edit]

This lyric is a proclamation of the proper activities of youth, in which the author urges that courtly pastimes such as jousting (‘featyes of armys’) provide virtuous activity to keep vice at bay. “The tyme of youthe is to be spent” contains many echoes to sentiments expressed in “Pastyme with good companye” (H 5). This piece is sometimes entitled “Goode dysporttys” (Robbins Suppl.).

1 spent Used to its fullest; “Exhausted of the active or effective power or principle” (OED ppla 4. a.); cf., in Youth, the statement of Youth in response to Pride’s advice “It is time enough to be good / when that ye be old” (ll. 645–46): “I will make merry while I may” (l. 648; Lancashire, Two Tudor Interludes). Regarding the nature of the activities expressed in this lyric, and their place in the domain of youth, cf. similar sentiments expressed in the anonymous Jousts of May: “Therfore good is to haue parfyght knowlage / For all men that haue youth or metely age / How with the spere theyr enemyes to outrage / At euery nede” (161–4); see also the note to ll. 7–10, below.
1–2 youthe . . . vice Cf. sentiments of “I rede that he that useth hym not to vertue(s) in his yonge age he shall not conne withstande vyces in his old age” (Horstmann, Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle . . . and his Followers 2.83[32–4]) and the moral saying “he that in yowth no vertu will vse / In Age all honor shall hym Refuce” (OxHill f. 200v [p. 217]; variant in OxRawl86 f. 31r); see also Henry’s “Lusti yough shuld vs ensue” (H 61) and gloss; contrast “Youthe in his flowres may lyue at liberte / In age it is convenient to grow to gravite” (Flügel, “Die Proverbes von Lekenfield und Wresil,” 483).
2 forfent Forfended, forbidden (OED ppl. a. of “forfend” v. 2, “to avert, to keep away or off, prevent”).
3 nought Note, perceive, notice; also, possibly, to sing of (MED “noten” v.3 a). I nought Possibly a scribal substitution for “inough,” enough.
5 And they be If they be.
6 couit Desire (OED v. 1), or to have an inclination or drawing (OED “covet” v. 4.c). wyn who can May he win who can.
7–10 As featys of armys . . . corage is suerly owt fet Cf. the defence of jousting provided in the anonymous Jousts of May: “Syth it was to no mannes preiudyse / To passe the tyme this merciall excercyse / Was commendable. / Specyally for folkes honourable / And for other gentylmen therto able. / And for defence of realmes profytable / Is the vsage” (ll. 154–160); as well, in the Jousts of June: “For as moche as yonge folke can not deuyse, / To passe tyme in more noble excersyse / Than in the auncyent knyghtes practyse / Of dayes olde” (ll. 1–4).
8 vtter To vanquish, conquer, or overcome (OED “utter” v2. 1), as if by being active one many conquer vice; also, used in conjunction with horses at tournaments as they leave the lists or course (OED v1. 4).
9 Comparysons Comparisons, similarities or differences discovered by comparison (MED n. 3.a, 3.b). sett Prescribed, ordained, established, esp. in connection with a law or declaration (OED “set” v1. V.50).
10 corage Spirit, vitality, vigor, lustiness, and so forth, relating to the heart as a center of feeling, thought, and mind. It is used in two different though related senses in the lyrics of H; one—relating to confidence, boldness, bravery, and valour (OED n. 3.d, 4)—is the dominent sense here and in the unattributed “Pray we to god that all may gyde” (H 65.3); another—relating to sexual vigour and inclination, the desire to love, and the amorous spirit (OED n. 3.e)—is found in Henry’s “Thow that men do call it dotage” (H 44.2,13), Cornish’s “Adew corage adew” (H 32.1,3), the unattributed “And I war a maydyn” (H 67. 8), and “Hey troly loly lo” (H 75.18). For a likely instance of the relation of the two, via the practices of courtly love, see “Thow that men do call it dotage” (H 44.13). owt ffet Fetched out of it, gained (OED “fet” v. obs.).
12 dysporttys Disports, relaxations, recreations, merriment (OED “disport” n., 1, 2, & 3).

“The tyme of youthe is to be spent” appears in H in three voices, complete for ll. 1–2 save the second voice, which is missing the phrase and music for “be for fent” in the second repetition of l. 2 (lower f. 28v). There is, however, a vacant rule on the following page (upper f. 29r) that could accommodate it as well as a blank rule above voice 2. The remainder of the lyric is provided after the third voice.

This lyric is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 3487.5 and Ringler MS TM1602. It is reprinted in Briggs #1, Trefusis 10–1, Flügel Anglia 233, Flügel Neuengl 147, Stevens M&P 392, and Stevens MCH8 22.

Textual Notes[edit]

Texts Collated[edit]

H1 (ff. 28v–29r), H2,3 (ll. 1–3).

1 is] is for H3
2 forfent^] for fent but vice in shuld be for fent. H1, ~ in it shuld H2, ~ in it ~ fent^ H3