Greensleeves (Traditional English Folk Song)

"Greensleeves" Facts:
  • Traditional English folk song & tune.
  • A ballad by this name was registered in 1580 as "A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves".
  • There is a belief that Greensleeves may have been composed by Henry VIII (pictured) for his future queen consort Anne Boleyn.
  • Anne's rejection of Henry's attempts to seduce her are referred to in the song, "cast me off discourteously."
  • However, as the work is probably an Elizabethan-Italian based style of composition, it is very unlikely that Henry VIII made any contribution to the song.
  • It has been suggested that Lady Green Sleeves was a promiscuous young woman, perhaps a prostitute.
  • The tune Greensleeves is mentioned in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, (written ~1602).


Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves.

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.


I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.


If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.


My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.


Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.


Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.



Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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