Did Henry VIII write Greensleeves? A song for Anne Boleyn perhaps? It is unlikely as it's based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry VIII's death, but the rumours persist.

'Greensleeves' undeniably one of the most enduringly popular English folk songs, and one that has been regularly harnessed over the years by artists from all sorts of disciplines ranging from the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams to the team behind the American television series Lassie.

'Greensleeves' lyrics

Alas, my love, you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously
For I have loved you well and long
Delighting in your company

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady greensleeves

Your vows you've broken, like my heart
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity

[Chorus]I have been ready at your hand
To grant whatever you would crave
I have both wagered life and land
Your love and good-will for to have[Chorus]

If you intend thus to disdain
It does the more enrapture me
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity


My men were clothed all in green
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen
And yet thou wouldst not love me

[Chorus]Thou couldst desire no earthly thing
But still thou hadst it readily
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me[Chorus]Well, I will pray to God on high
That thou my constancy mayst see
And that yet once before I die
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me


Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu
To God I pray to prosper thee
For I am still thy lover true
Come once again and love me


Main image: My Lady Greensleeves © Dante Gabriel Rossetti, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons