On every side,

In a thousand valleys far and wide,

Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,

And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm.


SPENSER shall paint “fair May" and her train in noble words—

Then came fair May, the fairest maid on ground,
Deck'd all with dainties of her season's pride,
And throwing flowers out of her lap around:
Upon two brethren's shoulders she did ride,
The twins of Leda, which on either side
Supported her like to their sovereign queen :
Lord! how all creatures laught when her they spied,
And leapt and danced as they had ravish'd been,
And Cupid self about her flutter'd all in green.


JAMES I. welcomes the May, as if Scotland had no cutting winds to shame his song of "Away,' winter, away!"

Now was there made, fast by the Toure's wall,

A garden fair, and in the corners set

Ane herber green, with wandes long and small
Railed about; and so with trees set,

Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,
That life was none walking there forby
That might within scarce any wight espy.

So thick the bewes and the leaves green
Beshaded all the alleys that there were,
And middes every herber might be seen
The sharpe, greene, sweete juniper,
Growing so fair with branches here and there,
That, as it seemed to a life without,
The bewes spread the herber all about.

And on the smale greene twistes sate
The little sweete nightingale, and sung
So loud and clear the hymnes consecrate

Of love's use, now soft now loud among,
That of the gardens and the walles rung
Right out their song and on the couple next
Of their sweet harmony; and lo the text:—

Worshippe, ye that lovers been, this May,

For of your bliss the kalends are begun,
And sing with us, Away, winter, away!

Come, summer, come, the sweet season and sun;
Awake, for shame! that have your heavens won,
And amorously lift up your heades all;

Hark, Love, that list you to his mercy call.


A poet of the Shaksperean age has the same lesson, "Rejoice in May:"

When May is in his prime,

Then may each heart rejoice:

When May bedecks each branch with green,

Each bird strains forth his voice.

The lively sap creeps up

Into the blooming thorn:

The flowers, which cold in prison kept,

Now laugh the frost to scorn.

All Nature's imps triumph
Whiles joyful May doth last;
When May is gone, of all the year
The pleasant time is past.

May makes the cheerful hue,

May breeds and brings new blood,
May marcheth throughout every limb,
May makes the merry mood.

May pricketh tender hearts

Their warbling notes to tune.
Full strange it is, yet some, we see,
Do make their May in June.

Thus things are strangely wrought,
Whiles joyful May doth last.

Take May in time: when May is gone,
The pleasant time is past.

All ye

that live on earth,

And have your May at will,
Rejoice in May, as I do now,
And use your May with skill.

Use May, while that you may,
For May hath but his time;
When all the fruit is gone, it is
Too late the tree to climb.

Your liking and your lust

Is fresh whiles May doth last:
When May is gone, of all the year

The pleasant time is past.


After this old English Epicurean philosophy of "Take May in time," the Transatlantic child of our native muse can scarcely be called original:

The sun is bright,-the air is clear,

The darting swallows soar and sing,
And from the stately elms I hear
The blue-bird prophesying spring.
So blue yon winding river flows,
It seems an outlet from the sky,
Where, waiting till the west wind blows,
The freighted clouds at anchor lie.
All things are new ;--the buds, the leaves,
That gild the elm-tree's nodding crest,
And even the nest beneath the eaves;-
There are no birds in last year's nest!
All things rejoice in youth and love,
The fulness of their first delight!
And learn from the soft heavens above
The melting tenderness of night.

Maiden, that read'st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For, oh it is not always May!
Enjoy the spring of love and youth,

To some good angel leave the rest;
For Time will teach thee soon the truth,
There are no birds in last year's nest!


But who can be original with a theme upon which poets in all ages have written? We forgot the ditty which Master Touchstone calls a foolish song:"


It was a lover and his lass,

With a hey, with a ho, with a hey, no nee no,
And a hey no nee no ni no,

That o'er the green corn-fields did pass,

In spring time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding, a ding, a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

In spring time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding, a ding, a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,

With a hey, and a ho, and a hey, no nee no, &c
These pretty country fools did lie,

In spring time, &c.

This carol they begun that hour

With a hey, and a ho, and a hey, no nee no, &c.

How that life was but a flower,

In spring time, &c.

Then pretty lovers take the time,

With a hey, and a ho, and a hey, no nee no, &c.
For love is crowned with the prime,

In spring time, &c.*

* We print this, as it is given in Mr. Chappell's excellent collection of old English Songs, from an ancient MS. The reader may compare it with the version in As You Like It.'

[ocr errors]

After this lively carol, which Touchstone says
has "
no great matter
in it, Milton's song-a young student's offering to Nature-sounds
solemnly amidst its beauty:-

Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flow'ry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.


Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire,
Mirth and youth and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,

And welcome thee, and wish thee long.


We conclude with a few lines in honour of the Hawthorn tree-the glory of May-from a true old English poet :

Amongst the many buds proclaiming May,
(Decking the fields in holy-day's array,
Striving who shall surpass in bravery,)
Mark the fair blooming of the hawthorn-tree;
Who, finely clothed in a robe of white,
Feeds full the wanton eye with May's delight.
Yet, for the bravery that she is in,

Doth neither handle card nor wheel to spin,

Nor changeth robes but twice, is never seen

In other colours than in white or green.

Learn then content, young shepherd, from this tree,
Whose greatest wealth is Nature's livery;

And richest ingots never toil to find,
Nor care for poverty, but of the mind.





[SAMUEL PEPYS, Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II. and James II., left behind him one of the most curious records of the 17th century—a Diary, which was first published in 1825. Pepys

« VorigeDoorgaan »