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Different use of a word...

Hello all,
I'm a singer studying a piece of music by John Ireland, the song I'm taking a look at is Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem "English May". (I really don't know who he is either, so there's no pressure to come off as a history buff). In the music, at the end of the phrase, there's a funny usage of a word, and I haven't quite figured out what he's trying to say:

But here the hedgerows pine from green to grey
While yet May's lyre is tuning, and her song
Is weak in shade that should in sun be strong:
And your pulse springs not to so faint a lay.

Does anyone know what he means here? One of my problems is that 'lay' is usually a verb, but the structure of the sentence clearly indicates that the word is supposed to be a noun. sigh
Any knowledge about Rosetti's use of old English terms in this poem would be immensely appreciated.

Thank you!


  • My best guess is that he used lay in an extremely figurative sense of "appearance" or "circumstance." For example, the lay of the land is the general appearance of the land, so May isn't fully May-like yet, her song is weak in the shade when it would normally be strong in the sun, and your pulse hasn't responded to this not yet fully May-like circumstance or appearance.

    Does that make sense in the context?

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