Live With Me And Be My Love

William Shakespeare, his life and times and their relationship to music was the focus of my last post, now we turn our Spring Concert: Vivaldi Meets the Cool (8th May St Mary’s Episcopal Hamilton) and to the Shakespeare songs which will feature.

Aye there’s the rub. Choosing to start at the beginning, number one of Shearing’s Songs and Sonnets, ‘Live With Me And Be My Love’, initial research reveals a problem with blogging about this ‘Shakespeare’ work.  While a google of the first line together with ‘Shakespeare’ does throw up some results, within minutes it becomes apparent that this pastoral poem, ‘The Passionate Shepherd’ is the work, not of WS, but of Christopher Marlowe.

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online suggests that Shakespeare’s use of a fragment of the poem in the Merry Wives of Windsor may have led to this misattribution. Over the years there seems to have been some ‘attribution pingpong’: Palgrave’s Golden Treasury of 1875 gave the poem to Marlowe, while The Oxford Shakespeare Poems of 1914, obviously, awarded it to Shakspeare.

There are some variations among online versions of the poem, one is given below and includes one stanza of Love’s Answer, sometimes called the ‘Nymph’s Reply’.  According to Oxford Scholarly Editions, that was written by Walter Raleigh.


Live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dales and fields,

And all the craggy mountains yield.


There will we sit upon the rocks,

And see the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers, by whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.


There will I make thee a bed of roses,

With a thousand fragrant posies,

A cap of flowers and a kirtle

Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.


A belt of straw and ivy buds,

With coral clasps and amber studs,

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Then live with me, and be my love.


Love’s Answer

If that the world and love were young,

And truth in every shepherd’s tongue,

These pretty pleasures might me move

To live with thee and be thy love.

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