In darkness let me dwell

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In darkness let me dwell is an anonymous poem included in the 1606 song collection "Funeral Teares" by John Coprario.[1] Its first stanza also served as the basis to a song ascribed to the lutenist and composer John Dowland. The second song was published in 1610, late in Dowland's career, and shows the influence of Italian music of the early baroque.[2] It was published in "A Musical Banquet," a 1610 anthology of songs for lute and voice from England, France, Italy, and Spain compiled by Robert Dowland, John's son.[3] It eventually became more famous than the Coprario setting, and was recorded by many artists, notably by Sting and Edin Karamazov.


In darkness let me dwell; the ground shall sorrow be,
The roof despair, to bar all cheerful light from me;
The walls of marble black, that moist'ned still shall weep;
My music, hellish jarring sounds, to banish friendly sleep.
Thus, wedded to my woes, and bedded in my tomb,
O let me living die, till death doth come, till death doth come.

My dainties grief shall be, and tears my poisoned wine,
My sighs the air through which my panting heart shall pine,
My robes my mind shall suit exceeding blackest night,
My study shall be tragic thoughts sad fancy to delight,
Pale ghosts and frightful shades shall my acquaintance be:
O thus, my hapless joy, I haste to thee.[4]


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  2. A Musical Banquet (1610)
  3. A Musical Banquet (1610)
  4. English Madrigal verse, 1588-1632 ed. Edmund Horace Fellowes, p. 384