Venanzio Rauzzini
(1746 - 1810)

Rauzzini : O why my locks so yellow : illustration

O why my locks so yellow
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Anna Seward described a meeting in September, 1798 in Matlock Bath with "Miss Lee of Bath, author of "The Recess", etc. Two of her pupils were with her, one of whom is Miss Tickel, daughter to the sweet warbler, Mary Linley, who married Mr Tickel, and niece to the British Cecilia, the late Mrs Sheridan. This young lady sung to us with a thin, weak, but pretty voice, that wanted the sustaining power of instrumental accompaniment, and which, besides, was not modulated with Linleyan skill. She gave me, however, an opportunity, which I had wished for, of hearing the ballad sung which I made for Rauzzini to set, and which was sung so often at Bath last winter, - "O! why my locks so yellow," &c. It is sweetly adorned by the recitative and air."
Lyrics: Anna Seward

The stormy ocean roving,
My William seeks the foe;
Ah me, the pain of loving,
To war when lovers go.

O why my locks so yellow
Do rosy garlands bind,
When trembles yonder willow
As blows the sullen wind?
Ye nymphs, that know not anguish,
My garlands gay ye wove,
But I in absence languish,
And fear for all I love.

Nor yet the sprays of willow
Shall wave my temples o'er,
But weeds, that ocean's billow
leaves dark upon the shore.
Pale willows suit the sorrow
The fair forsaken knows;
Fierce war has winged the arrow
That wounds my soul's repose.

Sad on the beach I linger,
And watch the alt'ring sea,
But no cold doubts still injure,
My love is true to me.
Yet till rest crown my pillow,
Till peace my love restore,
Be mine the weeds yon billow
Leaves dark upon the shore.