THE MAY QUEEN by ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
 
You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow ’ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;
Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 
Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,
And you’ll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen;
For the shepherd lads on every side ’ill come from far away,
And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 
The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers,
And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;
And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray,
And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 
The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass,
And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass;
There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the livelong day,
And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 
All the valley, mother, ’ill be fresh and green and still,
And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,
And the rivulet in the flowery dale ’ill merrily glance and play,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 
So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
To-morrow ’ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;
To-morrow ’ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
 

 

England – that glorious melting pot of history and culture – celebrates May Day today, 1st May. Related to the pagan festival of Beltaine, May Day is a celebration to mark the banishment of the cold, dark winter and to welcome in the summer. Fertility was important, and the Beltaine celebrations were centred around blessing the earth and making offerings for a good harvest later in the year. May Day was traditionally the day that saw renewal, rebirth, re-awakening and regrowth begin.

Villages all over England have their own local May Day traditions, often built around maypole dances, Morris men, the crowning of a Queen of the May and the revels of the Green Man or Jack-in-the-Green, an ancient woodland spirit.

Morris Dancing is common on May Day and in true English style, there are many different styles of dress and dancing.  They are broadly similar and since the 1970s have enjoyed a big revival all over the country. Forms of this type of folk dance can claim pre-Christian origins and may have developed as a means of ensuring fertility of the soil, crops and animals when the survival of whole communities depended on the fortune of the crops. The ritual elements of its origins can still be seen in the dances today  the clockwise circle to represent the sun, crouching down, leaping in the air and banging sticks on the ground to encourage the crops to grow. Handkerchiefs are waved, bells ring and sticks are clashed to ward off evil spirits.

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