Working on the rewrite. I like the change I made to the first verse in the last post and will keep that:
Now we celebrate the spring
When merry lads are playing
Each lad with his bonny lass
A-dancing on the grass
Eh... all right, you do have to extend "grass" into "gra-ass," which isn't wonderful. Is "green grass" any better? ...Trouble is, the musical accent falls on first of the two syllables (either "GRA-ass" or "GREEN grass") while the poetic form only needs one accented syllable, and it must rhyme with the prior line. Ideally, the musical accent would coincide with the rhyme ("GRASS").
On the balance, I think I prefer not to torture poor "grass" into two syllables. "Green grass" it is. Second verse:
The Spring, in blooming flowered dress,
Doth laugh at Winter's sadness
To the country bagpipe's sound
The nymphs tread out their ground
I've had "verdant" suggested for the first line, which would work, but this is a pastoral song, aping what Sir Thomas Morley thought shepherds and their "nymphs" might say and do in the springtime. I like the simpler language. Bagpipes were considered a rustic instrument (I have a reference for that, just not this moment), so I feel pretty good about "country bagpipes." But oh - there's "grou-ound," like "gra-ass." Hrm - "round ground"? (No, not really: too much like Ground Round. But they could be dancing a circle, a 'round ground'...) "Fair ground" sounds too much like "fairground."
Problem is, "to tread the ground" is an expression all by itself and doesn't seem to take kindly to my efforts to shoehorn an adjective in there. I'm loathe to put it anywhere else, where it would disturb the stresses on "nymphs" and "out" (which are the same in this version and in Morley). A larger rewrite, perhaps having them "dance all around" or somesuch might work, but it's not working right this moment. My brain really wants to have that last musical stress (second to last note) bear the rhymed syllable, and then stretch it.
The third verse, my problem child. The idea for the first couplet is "Why are we sitting here on our butts/When we could be singing and dancing?" My second draft is an almost entire rewrite:
If we linger here we might
Refuse youth's sweet delight
But on third look, "linger here" really isn't the same as "sit we musing." They could be "lingering here" on the dancing ground with the girls, which would certainly not be refusing youth's sweet delights. But I do like the re-ordering on the second line, so that there's a one-syllable word to rhyme with the necessary one-syllable word in the first line. "If we sit and muse we might"? Then are they really "refusing" or just missing out on? "Neglect"? "O'erlook"?
If we sit and muse we might
O'erlook youth's sweet delight
Say what, dainty nymph and speak
Shall we play barley break?
Oy, "brea-eak." I don't even know what "barley break" is, although if it literally is breaking young barley, perhaps crushing it by laying on it, I have a guess that it's a euphemism. Or it could be a popular country dance. Or I could embrace the power of AND.
That's all for this morning. "Grou-ound" and "brea-eak" aren't insurmountable problems, I think, although I'd like to return to them and iron everything smooth.