John Dowland - Nocturne

Engels (Middelengels)


Welcome sweete death...
Goe nightly cares, the enemy to rest,
Forbeare a while to vexe my grieved sprite,
So long your weight hath lyne upon my breast,
that loe I live of life bereaved quite,
O give me time to draw my weary breath,
Or let me dye, as I desire the death.
Welcome sweete death, oh life, no life, a hell,
Then thus, and thus I bid the world farewell.
False world farewell, the enemy to rest,
now doe thy worst, I doe not weigh thy spight:
Free from thy cares I live for ever blest,
Enjoying peace and heavenly true delight.
Delight, whom woes nor sorrowes shall amate,
nor feares or teares disturbe her happy state.
And thus I leave thy hopes, thy joyes untrue,
and thus, and thus vaine world againe adue.
Toegevoed door TrampGuyTrampGuy op Vrij, 24/05/2013 - 22:55
Laatst bewerkt door ScieraSciera op Zon, 25/05/2014 - 09:42
Bedankt! 1 keer bedankt


ScieraSciera    Di, 28/05/2013 - 20:46

I've marked it as Middle German for now, it's from the beginning of the 17th century, so it's Early Modern English.
I'd translate it to German but I'm not sure if I understand everything of it correctly; I'd first need a proper translation of it into modern English to be sure.

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:15

you can simply press the 'subscribe' button instead

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:14

It's pretty easy to understand in terms of vocabulary, so I don't really see what's there to translate into modern English?

ScieraSciera    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:21

There are some words that I'm not sure about.
Does "vexe" mean "trouble", like in modern english, or does it still have its old, latin meaning of "torture" (which here fits better, at least when translated into german)?
Does "the enemy to rest" mean "the enemy of rest" or is "rest" a verb here? (I'm quite sure that the former is right, though).
Does "loe" mean "low"?
"then thus" is "because of this"? Or "and so"?
Does "weigh" mean "bear"?
And I have no idea what "amate" shall mean.
All this isn't given in dictionaries of contemporary English.
EDIT: And "adue" I also don't understand. Or does it mean "endure"?

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:41

vexe = vex
loe = lo (like "look")
weigh = weigh

^^ all of these are almost the same as their modern counterparts. As for the meaning - depends on the context

amate = in context it's the second definition.

"the enemy to rest" - I would assume verb.
"then thus" - "and so" sounds better to me.

adue = "a due"? not sure... probably not.

ScieraSciera    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:35

Oh, and two more things.
Does "welcome" directly adress the "sweete death" or is it an imperative? I strongly assume the first but the absence of a comma implies the latter interpretation.
And I guess "And thus I leave thy hopes, thy joyes untrue," means
"And so I don't fulfill your hopes and joys"?

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:45

Note that most of your what you're uncertain about is contextual. So even if someone will translate it into modern English, he/she could ask the same questions as you.

ScieraSciera    Di, 28/05/2013 - 21:53

Can you still "vex" a spirit in modern english? Haven't heard that, so I wasn't sure what to make of it.

With "low" it also makes sense, but "lo" does fit better. But I couldn't have figured that out.

The modern "weigh" doesn't make any sense here in its dictionary meanings. You don't want to tell me that the modern "weigh" can also mean "endure"?


"the enemy to rest" - I would assume verb.

You sure? I only brought this up because it might be theoretically possible not because I'd think that it really means that.

"adue" is still unknown.

And yes, I know that many of these are contextual, but normally they would be expressed different in modern english, so a modern english translation that is more than just word per word would make clear which interpretation is the one that's meant.

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Di, 28/05/2013 - 22:18

"to vex ones spirit" is definitely in use, might not be common, but still in use.

About the "loe" and other such "old-like-words-with-an-extra-E-in-the-end" - just remove the E. If you'll listen to the song it could help too - I believe he sings a more modern version.

So what's wrong with "weigh"? you got it right, it's one of its meanings : to bear, to endure....

About "the enemy to rest" I suppose it is possible, but again - contextual. Whatever interpretation you'll choose will be as good as the rest. Unless you're planning on fully analyze this piece - then you'll probably get closer to the true intended meaning.

michealtmichealt    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 18:21

As Sciera said, this is Early Modern English, not Middle English - it's not the only "Middle English" lyric on LT whose author was born after the end of the Middle English period.. I think Dowland published the first version of it in The First Booke of Songes or Ayres in 1597 (but I may be confusing two nocturnes), although maybe the version above was (as Sciera said) written early in the 17th century.

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 18:51

We could then make a category for early modern English - but I think it's not necessary.
And to say one language ended at this year and its successor started immediately is a mere convention anyway.

michealtmichealt    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:37

Sure one single date is meaningless. But the grammar, spelling, and even the alphabet and some of the vocabulary changed quite a lot and this song has not the slightest connection with Middle English as opposed to Modern English in any of those aspects of the language. Early Modern Engish began to be used at about 1400, and late Middle English was pretty rare by 1470, and nealy non-existent (at least in southern England) by 1500.
I don't think a separate category for Early Modern English is needed because because we don't have a lot of it, but as some of it needs to be translated to sometning more modern it has to go somehere other than unqualified "English". It would perhaps be best if the submitter's comments were to say "this is actually early Modern English rather than Middle English" in the cases where that is rather obvious, so as to avoid misleading or confusing people.

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 20:02

I recently heard somewhere that even that one is overrated.
But yeah, one of the more well-grounded language stage borders.

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:18

Whatever kind of English that is, a few lines are beyond mine. I'd be curious to see a modern English equivalent.

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:29

I gave it a try:


Welcome, sweet death...

Go away, nightly cares, you enemy of rest,
Cease for a while to torture my saddened spirit,
Your weight has lain that long on my chest
That - see! - I live quite deprived of life,
Oh give me time to draw my tired breath,
or let me die, as I desire the death.
Welcome, sweet death, oh life, (you are) no life, (but) a hell,
And so, and so I say farewell to the world.

Farewell, false world, you enemy of rest,
now do your worst, I don't measure (the weight of) your spite: (or "I don't bear your spite", not sure)
Free from your cares I live forever blessed,
Enjoying peace and heavenly true delight.
Delight that neither woes nor sorrows will cast down,
nor fears nor tears will disturb its happy state.
And so I leave your hopes, your untrue joys,
and so, and so, vain world again ???

phantasmagoriaphantasmagoria    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:37

You're correct, I was just going to point that out. Based on the other line "Then thus, and thus I bid the world farewell."
"And so, and so vain world I bid you farewell again".

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:40

Ah, that makes lot of sense - didn't even think in that direction.

michealtmichealt    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:43

I think "I doe not weigh thy spight" means "I take no regard of your spite". Can't be certain as I haven't heard much Early Modern English lately so I'm a bit out of practise  Devil smile .

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 20:05

Well, that would be interpretation number 3 for it.
So far all seem possible to me.

michealtmichealt    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 20:49

Well, the good thing about this meaning is that there is good evidence for it. Of course it's become obsolete in modern English (last citationa about the end of the 17hth century. I was just lazy when I said I wasn't sure, but now I've looked itup and can confirm that "not weigh" could be used to mean "disregard" in late middle and early modern English

Here is what the OED says was once a meaning of "weigh" as a verb, with citations of its in this sense use from the early 13th century to to the late 18th. Line a is the definition of the meaning being consiered; each of "†" and "Obsolete" mean that the word is no longer used in this sense in current modern English.

a. To esteem, value, think highly of; to count dear or precious; to ascribe value or importance to. Often with negative: (Not) to care for or regard. Obsolete.

?c1225 (▸?a1200) Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. (1972) 250 Cunde of god heorte. is to beon offered of sunne þer as nan nis ofte. oðer weie swiðere his sunne sumchere þenne he þurte weien hit to lutel is as uuel oðer wurse.
c1405 (▸c1385) Chaucer Knight's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) 923 That lord hath litel of discrecioun That in swich caas kan no dyuysioun But weyeth pryde and humblesse after oon.
▸ c1449 R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 335 Whi therfore schulen we ouer miche weie and apprise his seiyng?
1496–7 Act 12 Hen. VII c. 12 Preamble The same Kyng.., not fearyng Almyghty God in breking his seid promys nor weiyng his Honour in the same.
1567 T. Harman Caueat for Commen Cursetors (new ed.) sig. Eiiiv Take no care for that, for I do not greatly waye it, it was worth but iii.s. iiii.d.
1579 Spenser Shepheardes Cal. June 73 Nought weigh I, who my song doth prayse or blame.
1592 S. Daniel Complaint Rosamond xxiii Henry the second, that so highly weigh'd mee.
1595–7 J. Lyly Woman in Moone iii. ii. 289 I, he wayes more his flocke then me.
1598 Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost v. ii. 27 You waigh me not, O thats you care not for me.
1633 P. Massinger New Way to pay Old Debts iii. iii. sig. H2 My deeds nephew Shall speake my loue, what men report, I waigh not.
1676 W. Temple in C. E. Pike Essex Papers (1913) II. 81 The Estates would bee enough inclinable to it as weighing interest more than honour.
1681 W. Robertson Phraseologia Generalis 1306/2 I do not weigh you a pin..Non ego te flocci facio.

Of course that's just one meaning of the verb, there are/have been many more. And this is just one submeaning (submeaning 'a' of number 13 of a collection of 22 main meanings each of which has several submeanings. But this meaning certainly works in context.

The OED page containing this (and also containing all the other meanings noted in the paragraph above, plus a lot of meanings where the word is combined with others to create various other meanings - OED pages in the online version are very large indeed) has not yet been released online in its OED 3rd Edition version, so maybe there'll be more information and more citations when that finally happens.

phantasmagoriaphantasmagoria    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:46

I have a question though, I read this line "Goe nightly cares, the enemy to rest," as "Go away nightly cares, (you are) the enemy of sleep" as in worry is the thing that deprives you of sleep by keeping you up at night. Or am I wrong?

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 19:51

Sounds pretty close to what Sciera proposed. sleep or rest, it's about quiet, right?
I don't see anything else that would make sense.

ScieraSciera    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 20:03

Yeah, sounds like what I had in mind.

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 22:24

And a French one, for good measure.

I'm not quite sure of the meaning of "vain" though. I suppose it's rather "useless" or "absurd" than "conceited" ?
I found "subdue" for "amate", but the meaning might have shifted since.
What do you guys think?

phantasmagoriaphantasmagoria    Zat, 16/02/2019 - 22:44

Maybe take a look at it here, as in "shallow world"
amate = to dishearten (from Old French "amater")