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The Queen's Men (The Two Cousins)

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

The Two Cousins is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Rewards and Fairies. Counter-tenor Dik Cadbury sang it as The Queen's Men on Peter Bellamy's second album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Merlin's Isle of Gramarye. Bellamy commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Alternatively titled The Two Cousins, this quasi-Tudor piece is a lament for the two young sea captains who, in the story Gloriana, are persuaded by the queen to undertake a fatal mission. The tune is intended to recall those of Elizabethan court songs after the style of Byrd. The accompaniment was arranged by Dolly Collins.

Lyrics

Valour and Innocence
Have latterly gone hence
To certain death by certain shame attended.
Envy—ah! even to tears!—
The fortune of their years
Which, though so few, yet so divinely ended.

Scarce had they lifted up
Life's full and fiery cup,
Than they had set it down untouched before them.
Before their day arose
They beckoned it to close—
Close in destruction and confusion o'er them.

They did not stay to ask
What prize should crown their task,
Well sure that prize was such as no man strives for;
But passed into eclipse,
Her kiss upon their lips—
Even Belphoebe's, whom they gave their lives for!