The lowest trees have tops (John Dowland)

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  • CPDL #24107:         
Editor: James Gibb (submitted 2011-08-07).   Score information: A4, 3 pages, 33 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Includes a keyboard reduction of the a cappella choral score. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
  • CPDL #16848:       
Editor: Brian Russell (submitted 2008-05-07).   Score information: A4, 3 pages, 23 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: NoteWorthy Composer file may be viewed and printed with NoteWorthy Composer Viewer.

General Information

Title: The lowest trees have tops
Composer: John Dowland
Lyricist: Edward Dyer

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularMadrigal

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

Published: 1603

Description: No. XIX from The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Aires (1603)

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat,
And slender hairs cast shadows though but small,
And bees have stings although they be not great.
Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs,
And love is love in beggars and in kings.

Where waters smoothest run, deep are the fords,
The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move:
The firmest faith is in the fewest words,
The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love,
True hearts have eyes and ears no tongues to speak:
They hear, and see, and sigh, and then they break.