It Was A Lover And His Lass

IT was a lover and his lass,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn-field did pass,
   In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
These pretty country folks would lie,
   In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that life was but a flower
   In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And, therefore, take the present time
   With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crown`d with the prime
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

by William Shakespeare

Comments (9)

A nice and wonderful one
The way the lovers enjoy the spring....awesome work.....a wonderful poem from a wonderful poet
Marvelously penned love story of a lover and his lass by a master craftsman in a meaningful and lovely poem. Thanks for sharing.
- from ''As You Like It'', Act V, sc.3 - a delightful (and secretly bawdy) song, It Was a Lover and His Lass. This particular scene consists of Touchstone, the clown, and his intended bride, Audrey (who is on record as saying I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul. Act III, sc.3) running into two pages, who dance in a circle with them while one of the pages sings this song. Part of the joke is that Touchstone is really only after Audrey because he wants a tumble, the other part is in the lyrics of the song itself, about an amorous couple getting busy in a cornfield.
The song tells the story of a lover and his lass who quite literally have a roll in the hay - or at least in the rye. The nonsense syllable, 'nonny', is here subsumed in the word ''nonino'', pronounced 'nonny no'. The word nonny in Shakespeare's time was not mere nonsense, but was one of many slang terms for the vagina - the interlineation, therefore, of ''with a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonny no'' is in part a term to sexual (inter) action between the Lover and his Lass, and also attributed to them as the song they sing while thus engaged. Because although we think of him as highbrow today, that was not exactly how Shakespeare rolled - he was the master of double meanings and sexual puns, and this song is one example of it. [by Kelly Fineman]
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