"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)


"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Merry Month of May




In somer when the leves spryng
The bloschems on every bowe
So mery doyt the berdys syng
Yn wodys mery now.

So one of the medieval Robin Hood ballads.

Merry (myrige), 'mirthful' (as the birds sing), 'pleasant' (as the woods are) all in the merry month of May. Robin and his merry men (outlaws who were not merry until they danced in the May Games – men in green following Robin from grisly guise to Green God) leading revels for the May Queen and all her wanton company under the leaves of lyne.

Love trysts in the greenwood: Dafydd ap Gwilym lingering under “May’s sweet branches” setting up an altar to love “among the birch and hazel, the mantles of May”. The sensuous sweetness of all those blossoming boughs, ribbons of white across a patchwork of green as the hedgerows come alive with the scents of Summer : hawthorn and elder, the air heavy with their pheromones. The bosky shade of copses, small groves, whispy strips of tree cover adopt the depths of forests as the glamour of the greenwood is cast by every green tree.

Dafydd asked Summer where it came from and received the reply ‘Annwfn’. So the Otherworld is with us for a while as the pulse of Spring brings Summer to life.

Little John said to Robin “It is a full fayre time in a mornyng of May”. And Ariel, freed to live as an airy spirit, sings:

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough

released by Prospero, to inhabit a perpetual season of Summer. 



As for us, time-bound as we are, we should follow Dunbar’s advice while we can:


(adapted from an inscription by David Jones)

5 comments:

Madzia said...

I have seen a link to your blog on another I'm following. Your Merry Month of May took me back to the scent of warm hedges, buzzing insects, lolling in slightly damp grasses and being intoxicated by the sweetness of the air. Feeling airborne by my emotions and yet earthbound by my senses. Lovely!
I always liked the word 'bosky' which, incidentally, means divine (boski) in my language,and which describes the atmosphere you engendered in your blog perfectly.

And, William Dunbar's idea of being merry with all your might appeals to my penchant for joy.

Greg said...

Yes isn't 'bosky' a lovely word. Nice to hear it means divine too!

Nice to visit your dacha too.

Anhrefn said...

Annwfn is a word with a gorgeous resonance. Summer's reply to Dafydd reminds us that, in the early tales of the Mabinogi, the Otherworld had none of its later associations with spirits of the dead, but is a place of unending leisure and plenty.

Madzia said...

Unending leisure and plenty. Ah, what a lovely association, Anhrefn!

Greg said...

Yes Annwfn is very much a parallel world that interacts with our world, which I suppose is why Dafydd can say Summer comes from there.