Monday, April 27, 2009
A Maypole's Speech to a Traveler
After the Restoration, Thomas Hall, a 17th century puritanical writer wrote "Funebriae Florae, the Downfall of May Games", that contained this choleric piece entitled "A May-Pole's Speech to a Traveler". I don't know about you, but I am quite happy to be counted among that "raskall crew" named below...
A May-Pole's Speech to a Traveler
"I am Sir May-Pole, that's my name;
Men, May and Mirth give me the same.
And this hath Flora, May and Mirth,
Begun and cherished my birth.
Till time and means so favour'd mee,
That of a twig I waxt a tree:
Then all the people, less and more,
My heights and tallness did adore.
---under Heaven's cope,
There's none as I so near the Pope;
Whereof the Papists give to mee,
Next papal, second dignity
Hath holy father much adoe
When he is chosen? So have I too:
Doth he upon men's shoulders ride?
That honour doth to me betide:
There is joy at my plantation,
As is at his coronation;
Men, women, children, on an heap,
Do sing and dance, and frisk and leap;
Yea, drumms and drunkards, on a rout,
Before me make a hideous shout;
Whose loud alarum and blowing cries
Do fright the earth and pierce the skies.
Hath holy Pope his holy guard,
So have I to do it watch and ward.
For, where 'tis nois'd that I am come,
My followers summoned are by drum.
I have a mighty retinue,
The scum of all the raskall crew,
Of fidlers, pedlars, jayle-scap't slaves,
Of tinkers, turn-coats, tospot-knaves,
Of theeves and scape-thrifts many a one,
With bouncing Besse, and jolly Jone,
With idle boyes, and journey-men,
And vagrants that their country run;
Yea, Hobby-horse doth hither prance,
Maid-Marrian and the Morrice-dance.
My summons fetcheth far and near,
All that can swagger, roar and swear,
All that can dance, and drab and drink,
They run to me as to a sink.
These mee for their commander take,
And I do them my black-guard make.
I tell them 'tis a time to laugh,
To give themselves free leave to quaff,
To drink their healths upon their knee,
To mix their talk with ribaldry
Old crones, that scarce have tooth or eye,
But crooked back, and lamed thigh,
Must have a frisk, and shake their heel,
As if no stitch nor ache they feel.
I bid the servant disobey,
The childe to say his parents may.
The poorer sort, that have no coin,
I can command them to purloin.
All this, and more, I warrant good,
For 'tis to maintain the neighbourhood.
The honor of the Sabbath-day
My dancing-greens have ta'en away
Let preachers prate till they grow wood;
Where I am they can do no good."