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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The Trees of Life go Down in Managua.

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Erikabrenner@Wordpress.com

As you may be aware, Nicaragua is undergoing social upheaval.

Thirty dead, many more injured and damage to property in the main centres of population.

The origin?

President Ortega announced that to resolve the deficit in the social security budget an increase in the contributions of both workers and employers was required, coupled with a five per cent cut in pensions.

The upshot was a howl of fury bringing people out onto the streets in protest, only to be met by young party thugs and riot police.

For many, the pensions cuts were the last straw in a process which has disenchanted them with President Ortega, his wife – and Vice President – Rosaria Murillo and the tripartite oligarchy of the Catholic church, big business and the Sandinista party which has ruled Nicaragua since 2006.

The Sandinistas – and President Ortega – are now a far cry from the movement which overthrew the dictatorship of the Samoza family in 1979. Then its black and red flags were the symbol of hope…hope for a better life for the ordinary family in a country whose assets had been stripped to the bone.

Unfortunately the first task of the new government was to beat off attacks by the right wing ‘Contras’, based in Honduras and, lamentably, Costa Rica. A guerilla war of unequal forces, which eventually came to an end in 1989, and which slowed down the hoped for advances, despite a reduction in the illiteracy rate from fifty per cent to 13 percent in just a few months, resulting in a business led government being elected in 1990 and a return to the misuse of public assets while cutting spending on education and health and trying to reverse the Sandinista land reform which gave property rights to the rural poor.

The Sandinistos lost election after election until Ortega came to an agreement with the third business led government. They would change the constitution to allow a candidate with more than 35% of the vote to be elected on the first round. In return, the incoming Sandanistas would not prosecute members of the outgoing government for corruption.

Ortega returned to power backed by the Catholic church and the business sector….and the black and red of the Sandanistas become the blue on pink of the new regime….increasingly controlled by his wife….which has become increasingly authoritarian – and corrupt.

Rosario Murillo seems to be following in the footsteps of Grace Mugabe and Winnie Mandela…though instead of the latter’s ‘Football Club’ she has the Juventad Sandinista…gangs of young thugs who attack and intimidate any opposition and who were much in evidence over the days of violence that have shaken the country.

Murillo peddles a type of New Age spiritualism with a dash of Christianity…thus the Trees of Life , based on the Klimt painting, which she had had installed all over Managua at vast expense. They consume an obscene amount of electricity for a country where rolling power cuts are the norm…they have had to be guarded by private security officers…real trees have been cut down to accommodate them…an all too accurate representation of image over action, the very thing with which even veteran Sandinistas reproach the current government.

There might be some residual respect for Ortega…but none for his wife who seems to be preparing her ascent to power with the aid of her armed thugs.

So no surprise then that the ‘trees’ were one of the first targets of the protesters…

tree of life destroyed

I found it interesting that these were not Trees of Liberty, on the model of the revolutionary American and French  societies, which you might expect from a once revolutionary party.

Too dangerous to plant a Tree of Liberty in Managua? Clearly…it might remind people of the hardships they suffered to bring about the free society of which they were now being deprived…

Not that the Trees of Liberty had had a free pass….

Revolutionary France planted them in cities, towns and villages on the model of the Boston Tree of Liberty made famous  by the reaction to the Stamp Duty Britain wished to impose on its American colonies. They were regarded as national altars, the exemplar of freedom, and attacks on them were severely punished….even to death under the guillotine.

Needless to say, with the advent of Napoleon, followed by the restoration of the Bourbons, the trees had a hard time of it. They were to be destroyed, though in more radical communes cuttings were made to keep the soul of liberty alive…

I suspect that their hold on people was more than just revolutionary fervour. Though decried by the Catholic church…and by the Puritans… the old fertility symbol, the Maypole, still attracted people…probably more for the festivities associated with its erection than for anything else…and the Tree of Liberty gave it life again in a ‘respectable’ form.

Not that it is completely forgotten, even now. Driving through the Correze many years ago  I was astonished to see maypoles in domestic gardens. Wound in tricolour stripes they bore a notice

‘Honneur a notre elu’.

A homage to the elected councillor…who, no doubt, had been obliged to wet the  whistles of his voters as the pole was installed.

Somehow I cannot see these installed in Managua….

But I can hope that the spirit of those who fought and died under the black and  red flag will triumph again to regain freedom for Nicaragua.