This is a collection of references to the cittern from contemporary literary works
such as poems, plays and so forth. Entries are listed roughly chronologically.
Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost (1588), V.ii.
I will not be put out of countenance
Because thou hast no face.
What is this?
Massinger, Old Law (1599), IV.i.
Come, come, let's have some agility; is there no musick in the house?
Yes, sir, here are sweet wire-drawers in the house.
Oh! that makes them and you seldom part; you are wine-drawers and they wire-drawers.
And both govern by the pegs, too.
And you have pipes in your consort too.
And sack-buts too, sir.
But the heads of your instruments differ; yours are
hogsheads, theirs are cittern and gittern-heads.
All wooden heads; there they meet again.
Bid them strike up, we'll have a dance, Gnotho; come, thou shalt foot it too.
Dekker, Old Fortunatus (1600), III.i.
Musicke? O delicious strings:
these heavenly wyre-drawers . . .
Fletcher, Love's Cure (1625)
You dog-skin-fac'd rogue, you poor John,
Which I will beat to Stock-fish.
You cittern-head, who have you talked to, ha?
You nasty, stinking, and ill-countenanced Cur.
Forde, The Lover's Melancholy (1629)
I hope the chronicles will rear me one day for a headpiece --
Of woodcock, without brain in't! Barbers shall wear thee on their citterns and hucksters set thee out in gingerbread.
Dekker, Match Mee in London (1631)
Fidling at least half an houre, on a Citterne with a mans
broken head at it, so that I think 'twas a Barber Surgion
William Prynne, Historio-Mastix, The Player's Scourge, or Actors Tragedy (1633) [spelling modernized]
"We therefore oft times find a way to be fenced to incontinency, and fomentations to adulteries to be from hence administered, whiles this man plays on the sound cithren with a nimble quill, and another with a skilfull finger composeth the melodious enticements of the roaring organ."
Drayton, Endimion and Phoebe (1595)
In Musickes sweet delight shee shewes her skill,
Quavering the Cithron nimbly with her quill . . .
Nashe, The Anatomy of Absurditie (1589)
. . . to tickle a Citterne, or have a sweete stroke on the Lute.
Marston, The Scourge of Villanie (1598)
Shall brainless Cyterne heads, each iubernole
Pocket the very Genius of thy soule