This ballad begins: 'Life let us cherish while yet the taper glows, / And the fresh flower pluck ere it close; / Why are ye fond of toil and care, / Why choose the rankling thorn to wear'. The chorus reads: 'And heedless by the lily stray, / Which blossoms in our way.'
This short song is one of at least two which appeared on the same broadside, thereby offering the purchaser value for money. It is thought that the author of 'Life Let us Cherish' was the Swiss-born poet, Johann Martin Usteri (1763-1827). Whether he was responsible for the first verse or the entire composition is unclear. It does, however, offer the reader a simple but profound message: 'Away with every toil and care, / And cease the rankling thorn to wear, / With manful heart the conflict meet, / Till death sounds his retreat.'
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable period of publication:
1860-1880 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(083)
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