The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne

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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

Grene growith the holy Blow thi hornne hunter

[ff. 38v-39r]

The Kynge .H. viij.

Early Modern English                                             Modern English
Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne. Who so that will all feats obtain
In loue he must be withowt dysdayne. In love he must be without disdain.
For loue enforcyth all nobyle kynd For love enforces all noble kind,
And dysdayne dyscorages all gentyl mynd. And disdain discourages all gentle mind.
Wherefor to loue and be not loued. Wherefore, to love and be not loved
Is wors then deth. let it be proved. Is worse than death? Let it be proved!
loue encoragith. and makyth on bold. Love encourages, and makes one bold;
Dysdayne abattyth. and makith hym colde. Disdain abates and makes him cold.
loue ys gevyn. to god and man. Love is given to God and man;
to woman also. I thynk the same. To woman also, I think the same.
But dysdayne ys vice. and shuld be refused. But disdain is vice, and should be refused,
Yet neuer the lesse it ys to moch used. Yet never the less it is too much used.
grett pyte it ware. loue for to compell. Great pity it were, love for to compel.
with dysdayne. both falce and subtell. With disdain, both false and subtle.

Textual Commentary[edit]

“Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne” is a proclamation on the value of loving as an act. In addition to enforcing one’s noble demeanor and making one bold, it is something which allows one to obtain “all feats” (presumably akin to the feats of arms expressed in “The tyme of youthe is to be spent” [H 19]). Additionally, in the lyric the force of love is contrasted throughout to that of disdain.

1 Who so . . . optayne Whosoever will show himself fully valorous (Stevens M&P 400). feattes “Featys of armys” (see Henry’s “The tyme of youthe is to be spent” [H 19.7]).
2 dysdayne Cf. its place further in this poem (ll. 4, 8, 11, 14) and in Henry’s “If love now reynyd as it hath bene” (H 38.5), his “Thow that men do call it dotage” (H 44.14), his “Whoso that wyll for grace sew” (H 57.8), and his “Lusti yough shuld vs ensue” (H 61.6,10,14); also Daggere’s “Downbery down” (H 15.6) and the anonymous (though in the spirit of Henry’s lyrics) “Let not vs that yongmen be” (H 59.3); cf. also the similar personification in “As power and wytt wyll me Assyst” (in LDev, later attributed to Wyatt): “yf dysdayn do shew hys face” (l. 19). In the context of such “feattes” as are put forward by the lyric, cf. also the sentiment which concludes the Jousts of June, that with “false tonges . . . Some of enuy dysdeynously wolde say” (ll. 261–4) ill of the good reasons for which the jousts were undertaken; see also the note to Henry’s “Withowt dyscord” (H 49.24).
3 enforcyth all nobyle kynd Strengthens all those of a noble nature, as well as all those natures (i.e. people) that are noble. kynd Birth, origin, descent (OED n I.1.a), but esp. “The character or quality derived from birth or native constitution” (OED n. I 3a.); “My kinde is to desire the honoure of the field” (Surrey’s “On a Lady refusing to dance” l. 51; in Tottell’s Miscellany [Songes and Sonnettes] Cc4r).
4 gentyl. . . Of birth, blood, family (OED a 2.a); also courteous, polite (OED a 3.c).
6 proved Proven, tried, tested (OED ppla 1); also demonstrated, shown to be true (OED ppla 2).
7 on One.
8 abattyth Abates, hinders, &c.
13 compell Constrain (OED v 1.a).

Though music in H is given for three voices for “Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne,” only the third voice is given text (the incipit), and the remainder of the lyrics appear underlaid.

This piece is indexed in Robbins Index and Suppl. 4143.3, Boffey, and Ringler MS TM1976. It is reprinted in Flügel Anglia 236, Flügel Neuengl 137, Stevens M&P 399, Stevens MCH8 60, and Trefusis 15.