The Merry Month of May

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‘The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom and to bring forth fruit, for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is is any manner a lover springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.’

Thus Sir Thomas Malory in La Morte d’Arthur…..

I woke this morning early, to the moon shining golden across the valley in front of the house and lay for a while, simply enjoying the peace and beauty of it all before starting the daily round.

There never seem to be enough hours in the day, but I doubt I would have the energy to follow the advice of Thomas Moore and steal  some hours from the night…

I rose shortly though, as the day was already on the wing and even if there is no mayblossom to be gathered I can’t afford to be a slugabed, unlike Herrick’s Corinna who had to be coaxed to join in the fun of the May day morning.

Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne
Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.
                     See how Aurora throwes her faire
                     Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:
                     Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
                     The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow’d toward the East,
Above an houre since; yet you not drest,
                     Nay! not so much as out of bed?
                     When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,
                     And sung their thankful Hymnes: ’tis sin,
                     Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.
Rise; and put on your Foliage, and be seene
To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and greene;
                     And sweet as Flora. Take no care
                     For Jewels for your Gowne, or Haire:
                     Feare not; the leaves will strew
                     Gemms in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the Day has kept,
Against you come, some Orient Pearls unwept:
                     Come, and receive them while the light
                     Hangs on the Dew-locks of the night:
                     And Titan on the Eastern hill
                     Retires himselfe, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dresse, be briefe in praying:
Few Beads are best, when once we goe a Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and comming, marke
How each field turns a street; each street a Parke
                     Made green, and trimm’d with trees: see how
                     Devotion gives each House a Bough,
                     Or Branch: Each Porch, each doore, ere this,
                     An Arke a Tabernacle is
Made up of white-thorn neatly enterwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
                     Can such delights be in the street,
                     And open fields, and we not see’t?
                     Come, we’ll abroad; and let’s obay
                     The Proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But my Corinna, come, let’s goe a Maying.
There’s not a budding Boy, or Girle, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
                     A deale of Youth, ere this, is come
                     Back, and with White-thorn laden home.
                     Some have dispatcht their Cakes and Creame,
                     Before that we have left to dreame:
And some have wept, and woo’d, and plighted Troth,
And chose their Priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
                     Many a green-gown has been given;
                     Many a kisse, both odde and even:
                     Many a glance too has been sent
                     From out the eye, Loves Firmament:
Many a jest told of the Keyes betraying
This night, and Locks pickt, yet w’are not a Maying.
Come, let us goe, while we are in our prime;
And take the harmlesse follie of the time.
                     We shall grow old apace, and die
                     Before we know our liberty.
                     Our life is short; and our dayes run
                     As fast away as do’s the Sunne:
And as a vapour, or a drop of raine
Once lost, can ne’r be found againe:
                     So when or you or I are made
                     A fable, song, or fleeting shade;
                     All love, all liking, all delight
                     Lies drown’d with us in endlesse night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying;
Come, my Corinna, come, let’s goe a Maying.
Carpe diem indeed…
Corinna might think herself lucky in her swain….had it been Sir John Suckling, a contemporary of Herrick, she could have been left snorting in the seven sleepers’ den until June……his idea of constancy being somewhat fluid.
Out upon it, I have lov’d
Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.
Time shall moult away his wings,
Ere he shall discover
In the whole wide world again
Such a constant lover.
But the spite on’t is, no praise
Is due at all to me;
Love with me had made no stays,
Had it any been but she.
Had it any been but she,
And that very face,
There had been at least ere this
A dozen dozen in her place.
And May, let us not forget, was the month in 1660 when Charles II – aptly nicknamed the Merry Monarch – was restored to the throne.
Given his reputation for dalliance it should come as no surprise that his favourite dance was that of  Cuckolds All Awry.
Which WordPress, in an excess of puritanical zeal, will not allow to be played.
And it has cocked up the spacing.
May their IT nerds wear horns.

 

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