Monday, April 27, 2009
May Day Verses and Ballad Offerings
Corrina's Going A-Maying
Get up, get up for shame, the blooming Morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air;
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
Above an hour since; yet you not drest,
Nay! not so much as out of bed?
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation, to keep in,
Whenas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
Rise; and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green;
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown, or hair;
Fear not, the leaves will strew
Gems 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 himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying;
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimm'd with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch; each porch, each door ere this
An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn, neatly interwove;
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 obey
The proclamation made for May,
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
There's not a budding boy, or girl, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden, home.
Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream,
Before that we have left to dream;
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 kiss, both odd and even;
Many a glance too has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.
Come, let us go, while we are in our prime;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun;
And as a vapour, or a drop of rain,
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
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 endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
- Robert Herrick
YOU rural goddesses,
That woods and fields possess,
Assist me with your skill, that may direct my quill,
More jocundly to express,
The mirth and delight, both morning and night,
On mountain or in dale,
Of them who choose this trade to use,
And, through cold dews, do never refuse
To carry the milking-pail.
The bravest lasses gay,
Live not so merry as they;
In honest civil sort they make each other sport,
As they trudge on their way;
Come fair or foul weather, they're fearful of neither,
Their courages never quail.
In wet and dry, though winds be high,
And dark's the sky, they ne'er deny
To carry the milking-pail.
Their hearts are free from care,
They never will despair;
Whatever them befal, they bravely bear out all,
And fortune's frowns outdare.
They pleasantly sing to welcome the spring,
'Gainst heaven they never rail;
If grass well grow, their thanks they show,
And, frost or snow, they merrily go
Along with the milking-pail:
Base idleness they do scorn,
They rise very early i' th' morn,
And walk into the field, where pretty birds do yield
Brave music on every thorn.
The linnet and thrush do sing on each bush,
And the dulcet nightingale
Her note doth strain, by jocund vein,
To entertain that worthy train,
Which carry the milking-pail.
Their labour doth health preserve,
No doctor's rules they observe,
While others too nice in taking their advice,
Look always as though they would starve.
Their meat is digested, they ne'er are molested,
No sickness doth them assail;
Their time is spent in merriment,
While limbs are lent, they are content,
To carry the milking-pail.
Upon the first of May,
With garlands, fresh and gay,
With mirth and music sweet, for such a season meet,
They pass the time away.
They dance away sorrow, and all the day thorough
Their legs do never fail,
For they nimbly their feet do ply,
And bravely try the victory,
In honour o' the milking-pail.
If any think that I
Do practise flattery,
In seeking thus to raise the merry milkmaids' praise,
I'll to them thus reply:-
It is their desert inviteth my art,
To study this pleasant tale;
In their defence, whose innocence,
And providence, gets honest pence
Out of the milking-pail.
- Traditional Ballad
Song on May Morning
Now the bright morning-star, Day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
- John Milton
Garland Song -
Rise up Maidens! fy for shame!
For I've been four lang miles from hame:
I've been gathering my garlands gay:
Rise up fair maids and take in your May!
Traditional Song from Newcastle
The Rural Dance About The May-Pole
Come, lasses and lads, take leave of your dads,
And away to the may-pole hie;
For every he has got him a she,
And the minstrel's standing by;
For Willie has gotten his Jill,
And Johnny has got his Joan,
To jig it, jig it, jig it,
Jig it up and down.
'Strike up,' says Wat; 'Agreed,' says Kate,
'And I prithee, fiddler, play;'
'Content,' says Hodge, and so says Madge,
For this is a holiday.
Then every man did put
His hat off to his lass,
And every girl did curchy,
Curchy, curchy on the grass.
'Begin,' says Hall; 'Aye, aye,' says Mall,
'We'll lead up Packington's Pound;'
'No, no,' says Noll, and so says Doll,
'We'll first have Sellenger's Round.'
Then every man began
To foot it round about;
And every girl did jet it,
Jet it, jet it, in and out.
'You're out,' says Dick; ''Tis a lie,' says Nick,
'The fiddler played it false;'
''Tis true,' says Hugh, and so says Sue,
And so says nimble Alice.
The fiddler then began
To play the tune again;
And every girl did trip it, trip it,
Trip it to the men.
'Let's kiss,' says Pan, 'Content,' says Nan,
And so says every she;
'How many?' says Batt; 'Why three,' says Matt,
'For that's a maiden's fee.'
But they, instead of three,
Did give them half a score,
And they in kindness gave 'em, gave 'em,
Gave 'em as many more.
Then after an hour, they went to a bower,
And played for ale and cakes;
And kisses, too; - until they were due,
The lasses kept the stakes:
The girls did then begin
To quarrel with the men;
And bid 'em take their kisses back,
And give them their own again.
Yet there they sate, until it was late,
And tired the fiddler quite,
With singing and playing, without any paying,
From morning unto night:
They told the fiddler then,
They'd pay him for his play;
And each a two-pence, two-pence,
Gave him, and went away.
'Good night,' says Harry; 'Good night,' says Mary;
'Good night,' says Dolly to John;
'Good night,' says Sue; 'Good night,' says Hugh;
'Good night,' says every one.
Some walked, and some did run,
Some loitered on the way;
And bound themselves with love-knots, love-knots,
To meet the next holiday.
- Westminster Drollery
The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup;
I'll drink to the garlands around it;
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown'd it.
A health to my girls,
Whose husbands may earls
Or lords be, granting my wishes,
And when that ye wed
To the bridal bed,
Then multiply all, like to fishes.
- Robert Herrick
It is the choice time of year,
For the violets now appear;
Now the rose recieves its birth;
And pretty primrose decks the earth.
The to the May-Pole come away,
For it is now a holiday.
- Washington Irving