Dido's final aria in Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas, libretto by Nahum Tate. She sings this lament to her handmaiden Belinda after Aeneas, who had been prompted by the apparition of Mercury to cease his lingering in Carthage, has informed her that he will soon be leaving to fulfill his destiny by sailing to Italy and founding the line that would result in Romulus and Remus.
The aria is proceeded, as is common in early opera, by a recitative in which Dido explains to Belinda that she has wearied of the world. The aria itself is a passacaglia, a form of early baroque music which features a repeating bass line (called a ground bass). This particular ground bass is in G minor, and it descends an octave from G chromatically until it reaches D then by scale steps to low G.
Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me;
On thy bosom let me rest.
More I would, but death invades me:
Death is now a welcome guest.
When I am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
no trouble in thy breast.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
This aria is also known by its first line, When I Am Laid. It is commonly assigned in voice classes to young mezzo sopranos as it is rather easy to sing and memorize, yet still challenging due to the way Purcell varies the melodic phrases over the ground bass.