Go From My Window (I)
DESCRIPTION: Characterized by the line "Go (away) from my window, my love, (go/do)." Rain or other difficulties may trouble the swain, but he usually gains admittance in the end: "Come up to my window, love... The wind nor rain shall not trouble thee again...."
EARLIEST DATE: 1611 (The Knight of the Burning Pestle); but see notes for evidence of 16th century versions
KEYWORDS: courting rejection nightvisit nightvisit
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Reeves-Circle 50, "Go From My Window" (1 text)
Chappell/Wooldridge I, pp. 146-147, "Go From My Window" (3 fragments of text, 1 tune)
HarrisLyleMcAlpineMcLucas, p. 159, "Gentle Johnnie Ogilvie the knicht o' Inverwharity" (1 fragment which may be this)
ADDITIONAL: F. W. Moorman, editor, _The Knight of the Burning Pestle: A Play Written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher_ (J.M. Dent, London, 1898 ("Digitized by Google")), "The Knight of the Burning Pestle", Act III, Sc. 5, ll. 32-36, 54-58, pp. 94-95, ("Go from my window, love go") (1 text: two verses); a 1613 edition has the song in Act IV (Beaumont/Fletcher).
M. L. Wine, editor, _Drama of the English Renaissance_, Modern Library, 1969, ACt III, scene v, ll. 26-30, 46-50, pp. 352-353 ("Go from my window, love go") (1 text: two verses)
Sabine Baring-Gould, _Strange Survivals_, 3rd edition(Methuen & Co, London, 1905 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 203-206, ("Begone, begone, my Willy, my Billy")
Charles Read Baskerville, "English Songs on the Night Visit" in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, Vol. XXXVI, No. 1 (March 1921 ("Digitized by Google")), Art. xxvii, pp. 589-590, ["The Coal-Pit is Tomorrow"] ("The wind is in the west")
Peter Buchan, _Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland_ (W&D Laing, and J Stevenson, Edinburgh, 1828), Vol. II, pp. 221-222, 337, "The Cuckold Sailor" (1 text)
cf. "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4]
cf. "One Night As I Lay on My Bed"
NOTES: This piece was obviously very popular in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (Chappell reports eight sources from that period, though presumably most of these are the tune). The earliest dated text (partial, of course) appears to be that in John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont's 1611 play "The Knight of the Burning Pestle," Act III, scene v:
Go from my window, love, go;
Go from my window, my dear;
The wind and rain
Will drive you back again:
You cannot be lodged here. - RBW
"Go From My Window (I)" is Baskerville's prime example in English of "the intrigue ballad of the night visit":
"An extension of the song on the night visit is found in a ballad of an intrigue type very widely spread among European folk. Several traditional forms collected in England and Scotland show, by reason of similar lines, a very close connection to the old comic song of the London stage. In this ballad a youth visits by agreement an old sweetheart who has married and borne a child, and the wife as she sings to the child warns the lover that her husband has unexpectedly remained at home" (Baskerville, p. 587).
This story is frequently told in the form of a cante fable. Two examples are "The Coal-Pit is Tomorrow" [the collier husband has stayed home from work and the wife has difficulty making her lover understand that "the cuckoo's in his nest And the coal-pit is tomorrow"] (Baskerville, pp. 589-590) and ("Begone, begone, my Willy, my Billy"). The lover keeps tapping at the window, refusing to understand the problem, the husband keeps asking what is causing the noise at the window, and the singer keeps hiding her answer to the lover in a lullaby to the baby until, exasperated, "she sprang out of bed, threw open the casement, and sang:- 'Begone, begone, my Willy, you silly; Begone, you fool, yet my dear. O the devil's in the man, And he can not understan' That he cannot have a lodging here" (Baring-Gould, p. 205).
Buchan tells the same story for "The Cuckold Sailor":
"Sailor's wives, in general, are not the most faithful to their husband's beds, when they are plowing the watery main.... [In this song] [t]he sailor's wife had made an appointment with her gallant to admit him unto her embraces that night, upon the usual private signal or watch-word being given, which he was to make at her window, at the time appointed; but as fate would have it, the sailor unexpectedly arrives, and to his astonishment hears a whistling at the window. He asks her the cause, when she informs him it was nothing but a bird called a cuckold, whistling, and requests him to be quiet and she would sing him a song, and begins with an address to her paramour, as given in the first verse; but he not perceiving its meaning, and her suitor continuing still at the window, the sailor questions her again and again on its meaning, but still receives evasive answers, and continues to sing to the satisfaction of all parties, the disappointed lover excepted, who was obliged, in the end, to go away dissatisfied" (Buchan, p. 337).
The Reeves-Circle line "the cuckoo's in his nest" -- referring to the singer's husband -- must at one time have been "the cuckold's in his nest." The point of "cuckolding" is that cuckoos don't have nests of their own but lay their eggs to be hatched and raised in other birds' nests by the cuckolded nester. Buchan has "the cockle's in his nest." (Buchan, p. 221).
The song without the story, and without the cuckold line, appears in The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Ebsworth quotes "another verse of the original" from John Fletcher's "Monsieur Thomas" (Ebsworth p. 200, footnote). In the context of the play Fletcher may have been adapting the song rather than repeating a traditional verse: Maid sings, "My man Thomas did me promise He would visit me this night"; Thomas sings, "I am here Love, tell me dear Love, How may I obtain thy sight"; Maid replies in song, "Come up to my window love, come, come, come, Come to my window my dear, The wind, nor the rain shall trouble thee again, But thou shalt be lodged here" (Waller, "Monsieur Thomas" Act 3, scene 3, pp. 137 l. 32-138 l. 1) [ Wikipedia dates the play to 1610-1616.]
For a 1638 stage song based on "Go From My Window" but with no cuckold see Heywood, pp. 256-257, ("Arise, arise, my Juggie, my Puggie") [a song, according to Heywood, "added by the stranger that lately acted Valerius."]. Willie calls on Juggie to let him in because "the weather is cold, it blowes, it snowes"; Juggie answers that "the weather is warme, 'twill do thee no harm ... thou canst not be lodged here"; when Willie prepares to leave Juggie relents: "the weather doth change ... thou shalt be lodged here."
Baring-Gould has a 1588 entry: "John Wolfe obtained leave to print three ballads; one was, 'Goe from my window, goe'" (Baring-Gould, p. 203). That is not the only evidence that the song was popular in the 16th century. Gilchrist makes the case that "Go From My Window" was well enough known in 1578 that it served as the basis for a "sacred parody" published in The Gude and Godlie Ballates (Gilchrist, pp. 161-164). The parody begins with the Lord saying "Quho is at my windo? quho, quho? Go from my windo, go, go! Quho callis thair, sa lyke a strangair? Go from my windo, go!" The petitioner pleads, "Lord, I am heir, ane wretchit mortall, That for thy mercy dois cry and call" (Gude&Godlie, p. 116). After rejections and further pleas, a final plea, "O gracious Lord celestiall, As thow art Lord and King eternall, Grant us grace, that we may enter all, And in at thy dure for to go," is answered, "Quho is at my windo? quho? Go from my windo, go! Cry na mair thair, lyke ane stranger, Bot in at my dure thow go" (Gude&Godlie, p. 119). - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
- Beaumont/Fletcher: Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Walter Barre, London, 1613 ("Digitized by Google"))
- Ebsworth: J Woodfall Ebsworth, The Roxburghe Ballads, (Ballad Society, Hertford, 1888 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), Vol. VI Part 1 [Part 16]
- Gilchrist: Anne G Gilchrist, "Sacred Parodies of Secular Folk Songs: A Study of the Gude and Godlie Ballates of the Wedderburn Brothers" in Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. III, No. 3 (Dec 1938 (available online by JSTOR)),
- Gude&Godlie: The Gude and Godlie Ballates (W Paterson, Edinburgh, 1868 reprint of 1578 edition ( Digitized by Google"))
- Heywood: Thomas Heywood, The Rape of Lucrece" (1638) in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood (John Pearson, London, 1874 ( Digitized by Google"), Vol. V
- Waller: "Monsieur Thomas" in A.R. Waller, The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1906 ("Digitized by Google"), Vol. IV
- Wikipedia: Wikipedia article "Monsieur Thomas"
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