Get your kicks on Day 66 of Project 194! There’s still more music from the Bard in store for today: another song for the Arden Theater Company’s 2002 production of Twelfth Night, O Mistress Mine:
O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear, your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low.
Trip no further, pretty sweeting.
Journeys end in lovers’ meeting,
Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? ‘Tis not hereafter.
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty;
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
There seem to be quite a number of settings of this text, many of them featuring a conspicuously melancholy tone. In contrast, I took my inspiration from the atmosphere of drunken merriment in Act II, Scene 3; despite the fact that it’s after midnight, Sir Toby Belch is in the mood to party, and has enlisted the befuddled Sir Andrew Aguecheek as his drinking companion. Feste, the Clown, responds to their request for a song by delivering a love song fitting for their rowdy mood. The Arden’s production, directed by the estimable Whit MacLaughlin, imagined the “Illyria” of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night as a distinctly Italian resort community, hence the accordian and the vocal bravura of this musical setting.
Shakespeare’s gifts as a poet are abundantly evident in this text, especially the second stanza. “What’s to come is still unsure” is a resonant line for me, but Shakespeare’s response to the uncertainty of the future is to embrace the pleasures of the present, for “In delay, there lies no plenty.” Drink your wine, sing your song, kiss a pretty girl – these are all sure to lift the spirit and drive away gloomy contemplations about the future. Life is good!
If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!