APPENDIX: WILLIAM BYRD’s SONG QUIS ME STATIM

Three manuscripts (British Library Add. 29401 - 5, Brit. Lib. Add. 31992, Harvard 634.1.703) contain a song for solo voice accompanied by four viols by William Byrd, the text of which is:

quis me statim rupto vetat fato mori,
crudelis, heu, dum parcis, ah, mors nimis?
tuum perforet nostra ferrum viscera.
amantis ossa dissipes, Hippolyte.

This song seems to have been written for the stage, NOTE 1 and musicologists might think it worth considering whether the play in question could be Panniculus.
2.
The absence of these lines from the printed edition is perhaps not probative, since they could conceivably have been suppressed. And the consideration that all of Gager’s other songs are written in lyric meters may weigh against this identification, but perhaps not decisively. After all, Panniculus would otherwise be Gager’s only dramatic production to lack at least one song, and an excellent context for Quis me statim would occur directly after the Naiad’s final, embittered monologue. But internal evidence speaks against this identification. The evident monosyllabic fourth foot in the second line can easly be fixed by reading ah, <ah>, but the scansion of Hippolyte seems to tell definitively against attributing this song to Panniculus: Gager invariably scanned the o of Hippolytus short, whereas it is long in the final line of this song.

 

NOTES

NOTE I  So thought by (e.g.) Edmund H. Fellows, William Byrd (2nd. ed., Oxford, 1948) 167.