Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air XXVII-“Green Sleeves”

By John Gay 1685–1732 John Gay

Act III, Scene xiii, Air XXVII—“Green Sleeves”

Since laws were made, for every degree,
To curb vice in others, as well as me,
I wonder we han’t better company
         Upon Tyburn tree.
But gold from law can take out the sting;
And if rich men, like us, were to swing,
’Twould thin the land, such numbers to string
         Upon Tyburn tree.

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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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