Haste Thee, Nymph

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tnV6NunQgw[/youtube]A lovely sunny picnic yesterday, and snow today. All I can say is, come on, haste thee, nymph. I’m dying for spring.

So this ridiculously spring-y song is a classic summons to the season, with words taken from John Milton‘s 1645  lyric poem L’Allegro, an ode to the goddess Mirth, and set to music by Handel in the winter of 1740. (And here with dancing by the Mark Morris troupe.)

The best part of the song is the hahahahahaha laughing chorus. I’ve started a small collection of laughing songs, where the singer bursts out in fake, musical laughter. If I were a DJ I’d mix them into a ha-ha whole.

The best part of the poem is that it demonstrates a very early use of  ‘tripping the light fantastic,’ see below.

Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee

Jest and youthful jollity,

Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,

Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles

Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,

And love to live in dimple sleek,

Sport, that wrinkled care derides,

And laughter, holding both his sides.

Come, and trip it, as you go,

On the light fantastic toe;

And in thy right hand lead with thee

The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;

And, if I give thee honour due,

Mirth, admit me of thy crew,

To live with her, and live with thee,

In unreproved pleasures free …

Botticelli's "Primavera" at the Uffizi Gallery.