Greensleeves is one of my most favourite historic folk songs ever.
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.
Alas, my love, that you should own
A heart of wanton vanity,
So must I meditate alone
Upon your insincerity.
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.¹
As it is a folk song, the form often varies. This video is my favourite version out of all the ones I’ve heard. It’s set to The Tudors, which is a period drama set around the young life of Henry VIII. Apparently, this song was said to be written by Henry VIII, but I hugely doubt that, and research says not too!¹
This song has many different interpretations with much debate over what it really means. Discussion have decided that it’s about a Lady Greens Leeves, but that is where the similarities end, as some think she was promiscuous, while others think she was not.²
From current analysis, I believe it’s about a man who is hopelessly in love with her, and is sore from rejection. As a child, I literally thought it was actually about green leaves, and that someone loved those green leaves oh so much!
What do you think Greensleeves mean?
¹ Six Wives, Greensleeves Lyrics, http://www.sixwives.info/greensleeves-lyrics.htm. ² Hubpages, The Folk Song Greensleeves: its Origins and History, http://greensleeves-hubs.hubpages.com/hub/FolkSongGreensleeves-Greensleeves. ³ Wikipedia, Greensleeves: Lyrical Interpretation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greensleeves#Lyrical_interpretation.