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Sunday, 22 May 2016
May
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THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY from the Shoemaker’s Holiday. Thomas Dekker 1599

O THE month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.

Now the nightingale, the pretty nightingale,
The sweetest singer in all the forest quire,
Entreats thee, sweet Peggy, to hear thy true love's tale:
Lo, yonder she sitteth, her breast against a brier.

But O, I spy the cuckoo, the cuckoo, the cuckoo;
See where she sitteth; come away, my joy:
Come away, I prithee, I do not like the cuckoo
Should sing where my Peggy and I kiss and toy.

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green;
And then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.

Some more spring blossom and flora in England, and some more recent songs to go with them. 

We'll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learnt to sing again
When you come home once more.

By Ivor Novello 1945 from the musical Perchance to Dream

The Chestnut Tree

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
I loved her and she loved me.
There she used to sit upon my knee
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
There she said she’d marry me
Now you ought to see our family
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree!

The novelty, singing dance sensation of 1938. Words and music by Jimmy Kennedy, Tommie Connor and Hamilton Kennedy. Ballroom routine devised by Miss Adele England.

Performed by Jack Hylton & His Orchestra and later Glenn Miller. Sung by my dad as a lullaby. He knew all the actions which didn’t make for a soporific atmosphere. Based on the poem The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Adapted and used as a symbol of love and betrayal by George Orwell in 1984.

Of course the chestnut tree Longfellow had in mind may have been a sweet chestnut. These candles are from the horse chestnut, beloved of English suburbia. This tree doesn’t produce nuts in the autumn but conkers. You can’t eat them but they are rather good fun in other ways.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 2:50 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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