Friday, May 26, 2006

Sumer Is Icumen In

On the first of May, the song would be heard across the English countryside...

Svmer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu...


...in Middle English, which is what they would have used in the Middle Ages, right? A more contemporary translation would be rendered thus:

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
Seeds grow and meadows bloom
And the forest springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo...


As Wikipedia notes, "summer" might be translated as "spring." This link also provides more interesting background to the song. Of course, the heralding of spring/summer/whatever was accompanied by all sorts of merriment, with Morris dancers, drinking, throwing each other over the bridge into the river, in a manner that was depicted in Sir Richard Attenborough's production of Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

Of course, here in the States, the Memorial Day weekend is the "official" beginning of summer. For some, the conventions of haute couture will hold sway, as men will put away their wool fedoras for straw boaters, and women... well, do whatever it is they do; something about wearing white more often. I've heard that this Saturday will see dancing in the streets in Front Royal, Virginia, so we might end up going there.

And, yes, the Black Hat gets put away for a lousy three months.


3 comments:

Carrie said...

Have you ever actually seen Morris dancing?

David L Alexander said...

Yes.

carrie said...

Where?

Is it strictly a male activity? The short video of it I was able to find on the web pictured men doing it and they looked sort of feminine.