Weep No More

A few days ago, I found myself thinking of the film Sense & Sensibility, the one with the screenplay written by Emma Thompson.

I love Jane Austen’s novels, and find this particular film adaptation to be very much to my taste. I re-read the book nearly every year, and re-watch the film with a similar frequency. Gorgeous work, both.

But the element surfacing in my mind this time was the song that Marianne sings near the middle of the film. The actress portraying Marianne is Kate Winslet, and it is her voice we hear.

Isn’t that lovely?

In my search for the clip, I learned more about the origins of the lyrics and and the melody. Patrick Doyle composed the score for the film, but borrowed a poem from Elizabethan times for the words that the actress would sing.

The authorship of the poem is a little uncertain, but it’s attributed to John Dowland, a court lute player for King James I from 1612 through 1626.

Weep you no more, sad fountains;
What need you flow so fast?
Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven’s sun doth gently waste.
But my sun’s heavenly eyes
View not your weeping,
That now lie sleeping
Softly, now softly lies

Sleep is a reconciling,
A rest that peace begets.
Doth not the sun rise smiling
When fair at even he sets?
Rest you then, rest, sad eyes,
Melt not in weeping
While she lies sleeping
Softly, now softly lies

Other composers in addition to Doyle have been inspired by the verses, among them Gustav Holst, who included “Weep You No More” in his lieder, Six Songs Op. 16. Modern singer songwriter Sting composed a version (performed with lutenist Edin Karamazov) which I also found beautiful.