Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air XVI-“Over the Hills, and Far Away”

By John Gay 1685–1732 John Gay

Act I, Scene xiii, Air XVI—“Over the Hills, and Far Away”

Mac.    Were I laid on Greenland’s coast,
               And in my arms embraced my lass,
          Warm amidst eternal frost,
               Too soon the half-year’s night would pass.
Polly. Were I sold on Indian soil,
               Soon as the burning day was closed,
          I could mock the sultry toil
               When on my charmer’s breast reposed.
Mac.    And I would love you all the day,
Polly. Every night would kiss and play,
Mac.    If with me you’d fondly stray
Polly. Over the hills, and far away.


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Poet John Gay 1685–1732

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

 John  Gay

Biography

Poet and playwright John Gay was born in Devon to an aristocratic though impoverished family. Unable to afford university, Gay went to London to apprentice as a draper instead. While in London, he began writing journalism, including the pamphlet The Present State of Wit (1711), a survey of contemporary periodicals and authors. Rural Sports (1713) is generally considered his first important poem; the poem is ostensibly pastoral, . . .

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POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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