Love's Fierce Desire and Hope's of Recovery
DESCRIPTION: The man says "Now the Tyrant hath stolen my dearest away" but he will remain faithful to Celia. Celia acknowledges his exile and pain. She will overcome all obstacles to return to him.
AUTHOR: Laurence Price (according to Bodleian header for broadsides Douce Ballads 1(132a) and Douce Ballads 1(114b))
EARLIEST DATE: before 1681 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(132a))
LONG DESCRIPTION: The man says "Now the Tyrant hath stolen my dearest away" but he will remain faithful "Till my Celia and I in our loves may be free." Celia answers that she understands "how in exile thou hast wandered the wood But I am resolved thy sorrows to free" She will overcome all obstacles to return to him: "I'll swim through the Ocean upon my bare brest, To find out my Darling whom I do love best, And when I have found him with Double delight, I'le comfort him kindly, by day and by night; And Ile be more faithful then the Turtle Dove, Which never at all did prove false to her love"; "The horn it shall sound, and the Hounds make a noise To fill my loves heart with ten thousand rare joy [sic]"
KEYWORDS: love exile separation nonballad royalty
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(132a), "Loves Fierce Desire, and Hopes of Recovery" or "A True and Brief Discription[sic] of Two Resolved Lovers" ("Now the tyrant hath stolen my dearest away"), T. Vere (London), 1644-1680; also Douce Ballads 1(114b), "Loves Fierce Desire, and Hopes of Recovery" or "A True and Brief Description of Two Resolved Lovers "
cf. "Fair Angel of England" (tune, per Bodleian broadsides Douce Ballads 1(132a) and Douce Ballads 1(114b))
cf. "Some Rival Has Stolen My True Love Away" (derivative)
NOTES: Broadwood points out the similarities between this ballad and its derivative, "Some Rival Has Stolen My True Love Away." "Love's Fierce Desire" has 60 lines and Broadwood's text for "Rival" has 12; they share 8 lines and one more has the same shape, rhyme and intent, but different nouns [see the long description above for the shared lines]. In addition, his exile -- the subject of "Rival's" second line, is acknowledged at line 30 of "Love's Fierce Desire." "But the whole ballad [of 'Love's Fierce Desire ...'] is distinct, and artificial in character, and would seem to be based upon some older song" The tune for "Love's Fierce Desire," "Fair Angel of England," "refers to the wooing of a 'fair maid of London' by King Edward IV.[r. 1461-1483], who appears as an imperious and dangerously determined lover. Possibly he is the 'Tyrant' ... referred to." (source: Lucy E. Broadwood, editor, English Traditional Songs and Carols (London, 1908 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 125).
Other than tune and the general subject of a woman pursued by royalty, "Fair Angel of England" has nothing in common with "Love's Fierce Desire": King Edward asks his target "grant a King favour thy true love to be"; she rejects him absolutely -- "Leave me most noble King tempt not in vain" -- and comments besides that "My favour is vanisht my beauty is past" (see broadsides Bodleian, Douce Ballads 2(178b), "A Courtly New Ballad of the Princely Wooing of the Fair Maid of London by King Edward" ("Fair angel of England thy beauty most bright"), F. Coles (London), 1663-1674; also 4o Rawl. 566(171), Douce Ballads 3(77b), " A Courtly New Ballad of the Princely Wooing of the Fair Maid of London, by King Edward"). "Edward was an insatiable womaniser with, it appears, a special taste for older ladies" (Anthony Cheetham in Fraser, p. 150). - BS
That Edward IV was an insatiable womanizer is beyond question; for some details of his love life, see the notes to "Jane Shore." His wife, Elizabeth Woodville or Wydeville, was certainly older than he was; her birth date is not certainly known (Wagner, p. 301, lists it as c. 1437), but we know that she had two children when her first husband was killed in 1461, in which year Edward IV was only 18. And it does seem to be true that he pursued her, and she rejected him, refusing to allow him into her bed unless he married her (Dockray, p. 5, cites the contemporary and near-contemporary sources). But nowhere does she claim "her beauty is past"; indeed, she used her looks to attract the easily-distracted king. So I doubt "Fair Angel of England" is about Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, and certainly this song isn't; Elizabeth was a widow, not a married woman, when Edward IV pursued her. If you really want more about Edward and Elizabeth, though, see the notes to "The Children in the Wood (The Babes in the Woods)" [Laws Q34]. - RBW
Besides being reworked in the oral tradition as "Some Rival Has Stolen my True Love Away," "Love's Fierce Desire" was well enough known to be copied. A song, dated July 26, 1678, to the tune of "Though the Tyrant Hath Stolen, &c" is recorded in the diary of Henry Teonge. It begins "Though the Fates have ordayned my true love away, And I am constrained on ship-board to stay"; a sailor in war time promises to remain true and asks that his lover do the same. No other words are shared with "Love's Fierce Desire" (source: Henry Teonge, The Diary of Henry Teonge Chaplain on Board His Majesty's Ships Assistance, Bristol, and Royal Oak, Anno 1675 to 1679 (London, 1825 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 248-249)). - BS
Last updated in version 2.6
- Dockray: Keith Dockray, Edward IV: A Source Book, Sutton, 1999
- Fraser: Antonia Fraser, editor, The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England, University of California Press, 1995
- Wagner: John A. Wagner, Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses, ABC-Clio, 2001
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