Note 1. From The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1634. On the title-page of the first ed. of this play Shakespeares name is associated with Fletchers as joint author. There is naturally much difference of opinion as to the authorship of this song. The weight of authority seems to be against Shakespeare, although from internal evidence, strong arguments can be made against this opinion. There are, however, many instances in Fletchers lyrical poems when he, without apparent difference, achieves Shakespeares manner. Cf. song from Valentinian, Now the lusty spring is seen. Mr. Bullen says: I have given the song tentatively to Fletcher, but I have a strong suspicion that it is by Shakespeare. (Lyrics from Elizabethan Dramatists, 1889.) [back]
Note 2. Primrose, first-born child of Ver: the punctuation at the end of this line has heretofore been a comma, which resulted in a certain obscurity in the succeeding line. Mr. Quiller-Couch, in the following interesting note, explains the matter, and his suggestion has been followed in the present text. The opening lines of the second stanza have generally been printed thus:
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry springtimes harbinger,
With her bells dim .
and many have wondered how Shakespeare or Fletcher came to write of the bells of a primrose . I have always suspected, however, that there should be a semicolon after Ver and that merry springtimes harbinger, with her bells dim, referred to a totally different flowerthe snow-drop, to wit. And I now learn from Dr. Grosart, who has carefully examined the 1634, and early editions, that the text actually gives a semicolon. The snow-drop may very well come after the primrose in the song, which altogether ignores the process of the seasons. (Adventures in Criticism, pp. 423.) [back]