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Meaning of: Shoot False Love




Here is a compilation of replies to last week's question:

>Has anyone ever seen the text of this well-known madrigal poem
>explained (or considered it?) to be a woman's words to her
>macho, but ineffective, lover?

Shoot, false love, I care not,
Spend thy shafts and spare not.
(fa-la-la)
I fear not, I, thy might,
And less I weigh thy spite;
All naked I unarm me,
If thou canst now shoot and harm me.
So lightly I esteem thee,
As now a child I deem thee.
(fa-la-la)
Long thy bow did fear me,
While thy pomp did blear me.
(fa-la-la)
But now I do perceive,
Thy art is to deceive;
And every simple lover,
All thy falsehood can discover.
Then weep, love, and be sorry,
For thou hast lost thy glory.
(fa-la-la)

Many thanks to all!

Douglas Frank
The Douglas Frank Chorale Inc.
New York City
dfrank(a)dougfrank.com

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That would be a distinctly modern (and anachronistic) interpretation.
"Love" here means "Cupid," and the shafts referred to are Cupid's
arrows. The text makes perfect sense read that way.
--------------------------------------------------
Interpreted as a woman's words of disdain directed at her macho
but erectile dysfunctional lover does not preclude the Cupid
interpretation. The decadent Renaissance audience adored the
double-entendres in this one, as in others.
--------------------------------------------------
Yes! That is the interpretation I give it in our performances.
It fits in with the "FA-LA-LA" interpretation (e.g., "fa la la"
means use your bawdy imagination!)
--------------------------------------------------
Is "love" capitalized? If so, that would be Cupid.
--------------------------------------------------
Shoot, false love comes across to me as an exchange with the
childish and mischievous Cupid.

Spend thy shafts refers to Cupid's arrows.

Long thy bow did fear me is a direct reference to Cupid's bow,
and the fear it instills in potential lovers. And as Cupid's
wiles are discovered,

But now I do perceive thy art is to deceive;
And every simple lover thy falsehood can discover.
Then weep, Love (the God), and be sorry,
For thou hast lost thy glory.
--------------------------------------------------
I would hope they enjoyed juicy double-entendres of that sort,
which I equally appreciate. You may well have a good point;
who knows what was on the Renaissance mind? Certainly not just
gods and goddesses in the days of low necklines and codpieces!

As to the classical interpretation, I believe that "Long thy
bow did fear me" means exactly "Long thy bow did scare me" in
an outmoded use of the verb in a transitive mode.
--------------------------------------------------
I still think it's about Cupid. Along these lines, roughly:

>Shoot, false [L]ove, I care not,
>Spend thy shafts and spare not.
Shoot me, untrue Cupid, I won't be afraid,
Use up your arrows and don't try to save any or to be gentle.

>I fear not, I, thy might,
>And less I weigh thy spite;
I'm not afraid of your power, and I'm even less afraid of
your nasty intentions.

>All naked I unarm me,
>If thou canst now shoot and harm me.
I won't try to defend myself (or, figuratively, I'm willing
to bet that you can't get through to me.)

>So lightly I esteem thee,
>As now a child I deem thee.
The singer is recognizing that Cupid is just a kid.

>Long thy bow did fear me,
>While thy pomp did blear me.
I used to be afraid of Cupid's bow and arrows, back when I
was impressed because he was a God. (Remember that in the
16th-17th century being in love was a sickness to be feared.)

>But now I do perceive,
>Thy art is to deceive;
Cupid's talent is not in the strength of his arrows, but
in how he tricks people.

>And every simple lover,
>All thy falsehood can discover
But even stupid people in love can figure out what a louse he is.

>Then weep, [L]ove, and be sorry,
>For thou hast lost thy glory.
Too bad for you, Cupid, we don't respect your godliness any more.

>Couldn't these be a woman's words of disdain directed at her
>macho, but ineffective (i.e., erectile dysfunctional) lover?
Still sounds to me like someone who is disenchanted and taking
out his frustration on Love, that is, Cupid. I think that any
other madrigal I've seen that addresses "Love" directly is
addressing Cupid. A person might be "my love." But most of
those lute songs with Love, for example -- "Say, Love, if ever
thou didst find," or "Come again, sweet Love doth now invite"
-- are about (or to) Cupid.

P.S. Here's another verse about Cupid and his shafts and bow,
from Philip Sidney's _Astrophel and Stella_, at
http://www.uoregon.edu/~rbear/stella.html.
XVII
His mother deere, Cupid offended late,
Because that Mars, growne slacker in her loue,
With pricking shot he did not throughly moue
To keepe the place of their first louing state.
The boy refusde for fear of Marses hate,
Who threatned stripes if he his wrath did proue;
But she, in chafe, him from her lap did shoue,
Brake bowe, brake shafts, while Cupid weeping sate;
Till that his grandame Nature, pitying it,
Of Stellaes brows made him two better bowes,
And in her eyes of arrows infinit.
O how for ioy he leaps! O how he crowes!
And straight therewith, like wags new got to play,
Falls to shrewd turnes! And I was in his way.
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The personage to whom the lyric text is directed is Cupid,
the Greek God of Love (Eros), who is said to have been created
through a union of Mercury and Diana/Venus, Vulcan/Jupiter/Mars
and Venus, or Nox and Erebus. Eric Smith'S A DICTIONARY OF
CLASSICAL REFERENCE IN ENGLISH POETRY (D. S. Brewer/Barnes and
Noble, 1984) has this to say about the little winged godlet:

Whilst it is only with erotic love that he is associated,
there are various interpretations according to whether love
is seen as tragic, comic, desirable, fearful, frivolous, and
so on. He is usually represented as a bright or purple winged
infant with bow and quiver, but is also shown as a warrior hero
with helmet and spear. Hesiod presents Eros as existing since
the beginning of time, born with or out of Chaos. Cupid may be
blind or invisible, reflecting the nature of the passion. His
golden arrows are of love; his leaden ones are of disdain. He
may be by himself or with Venus/Aphrodite. Eros becomes Erotes -
Cupids, the Loves - diminutive versions of himself, usually seen
accompanying a person rather than as protagonists.

In the publication of The First Booke of Balletts to Five Voyces
(1595), Morley intimates as much in his dedication to Sir Robert
Cecil (Fellowes/Dart-THE ENGLISH MADRIGALISTS, VOL 4, Stainer &
Bell, 1965):

ŠLo here uppon I have presumed to make offer to the same of these
simple Compositions of mine! Imitating (Right Honorable) in this,
the custome of that olde world, who wanting incense to offer up
to their Godds, made shift in steade thereof to honour them with
Milke. Or those who beeing not able to present a torch unto the hlier
Altars; in signe of their devotion, did light up a little candle,
and gave up the same. In which notwithstanding did shine more their
cleerly the affection of the giver then (sic) the worth or value
of the guift it self. Etc.

Perhaps others on the choralist might have a differing interpretation.