“Corydon and Phoebe”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1755? ("The New Ballads Sung by Mr Lowe and Miss Stevenson at Vauxhall London 1755")
Keywords: age hardheartedness courting love marriage virginity dialog lover
Found in: Britain(England(Lond,South) Canada(Newf)


Corydon (Colin) asks Phoebe (Phyllis) why she flees. She is afraid for her reputation. He says they're not alone; she says she will die a virgin. He replies that he'd come to ask for her hand in marriage, but will seek another. She accepts his hand

Long description

Corydon (Colin) asks Phoebe (Phyllis) why she makes haste ahead of his pursuit. She replies that she's scarcely sixteen and afraid for her reputation. He points out that they're not alone, so her reputation's safe; she replies that flattery or no, she will die a virgin. He replies that he'd come to ask for her hand in marriage, but since she has slighted him, he's giving up and will seek another. She bids him stay, accepts his hand, and promises "the girl you thought cruel will always prove kind"


She offers the "I will never marry" ploy; he counters with the "I'll marry someone else" gambit. Check and mate.

No question that this is a piece with its origin in minstrelsy and "rural romance" broadsides. But Kennedy cites over half-a-dozen collections from folk tradition, including the indexed version by Harry Cox, and I say that more than qualifies it as a folk song. - PJS

It should be noted that the mere presence of characters with these approximate names does not make a poem this song. Nicolas Breton, for instance, published "Phillida and Coridon" in 1591 in _The Honourable Entertainment given to the Queen's Majesty in Progress at Elvetham_); it's the same plot, but told in the third person: "In the merry month of May, In a morn by break of day, Forth I walked by the wood side Whenas May was in his pride. There I spied all alone Phillida and Coridon."

Similarly, John Chalkhill published a "Coridon's Song" ("Oh, the sweet contentment The countryman doth find. High trolollie Lolly loe, That quiet contemplation Possesseth all my mind: Then care away, And wend along with me") around 1600.

Again, Dyer published "Corydon to his Phyllis" ("Alas, my heart! mine eye hath wronged thee, Presumptuous eye, to gaze on Phyllis' face... Poor Corydon, the nymph, whose eye doth move thee , Doth love to draw, but is not drawn to love thee") in _The Phoenix Nest_ (1593).

In _England's Helicon_ (1600) we have "Phyllida's Love-Call to Her Corydon, and His Replying" (A dialog: Phyllida" Corydon, arise, my Corydon! Titan shineth clear." Corydon: "Who is it that calleth Corydon? Who is it that I hear?"); this piece has no author, but has a contemporary musical setting. - RBW

Cross references




  1. Kennedy 125, "Colin and Phoebe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Peacock, pp. 510-511, "Bold Escallion and Phoebe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #512
  5. BI, K125