Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde

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"Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde" is the title of a song from the Tudor era, popularly believed to have been a favourite of Henry VIII. The complete text of the song has not survived, but contained the short refrain:

'Shall I go walk the wood so wild, wandering, wandering, here and there'.

The melody of the song can be found in several compositions of the period, and would appear to have been popular with composers, perhaps because of its sprightly melody in the Lydian mode, or because it evoked a pastoral mood in the minds of contemporary listeners.


The song gave rise to two important keyboard works of the late Tudor era:

Related work[edit]

In 1597, John Dowland published a song entitled Can she excuse my wrongs, which quotes from the melody of Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde. The lyrics of this song have been linked to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex,[1] and they have been interpreted as a personal plea, addressed to Queen Elizabeth I, after the famous courtier had fallen from favour. The musical quotation has been interpreted as an allusion to the poet's sense of isolation from the Elizabethan court.


  1. ^ Dowland published an instrumental version of his song as 'The Earl of Essex's Galliard'. It was included in the collection Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares of 1604.