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It fell on a summer’s day, by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).

This salacious song is from Campion’s A Booke of Ayres (1601). The performance is by the English counter-tenor Alfred Deller, a big cheese in the early music revival (2:09):

The lyrics while you listen …

    It fell on a sommers day,
    While sweete Bessie sleeping laie
    In her bowre, on her bed,
    Light with curtaines shadowed,
    Iamy came: shee him spies,
    Opning halfe her heauie eyes.

    Iamy stole in through the dore,
    She lay slumbring as before;
    Softly to her he drew neere,
    She heard him, yet would not heare,
    Bessie vow’d not to speake,
    He resolu’d that dumpe to breake.

    First a soft kisse he doth take,
    She lay still, and would not wake;
    Then his hands learn’d to woo,
    She dreamp’t not what he would doo,
    But still slept, while he smild
    To see loue by sleepe beguild.

    Iamy then began to play,
    Bessie as one buried lay,
    Gladly still through this sleight
    Deceiu’d in her owne deceit,
    And since this traunce begoon,
    She sleepes eu’rie afternoone.

The “dumpe to breake“? I assume that refers to the Tudor dance, which was accompanied by the lute. And “weary” is substituted for “heavy” – no idea why.

There is an interesting note on the inspiration for these lyrics – see epigram II.60, with Campion’s original text:

“Thermius, a boy, saw Glaia, a girl, stretched out in sleep. With stealthy hand he drew apart her loosened garments, took her [l]eg, and kissed her smooth lips. She kept silent, as if in the tomb. The boy smiled and attempted the ultimate joy; she still did not stir but gladly submitted to all his tricks – the sly girl. What novel slumber is this, Glaia, defeating the gentle goose and the wakeful Sibyl? As if overcome by a great lethargy you sleep away your nights and days.”

Which lips are those? The choice is left to the reader’s imagination. Whichever, seduction by stealth is a fantasy entertained by both sexes but seldom indulged … as far as I know.

And the difference between erotica and pornography? Lots of debate about art and aesthetics, about how the artist approaches the work, about spirituality and animal passion. Maybe it’s as crude as this: erotica proposes, pornography disposes.

Campion was a bachelor to the end. At least he derives a moral from Bessie’s unspoken willingness: “Deceiu’d in her owne deceit“.

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