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)