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Once upon a May Day dreary...




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It was wet out there.  Not so cold, but wet.  As in dancing at Agincourt.  It splashed when we stamped.




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So we segued into "Singin' in the Rain."



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I always apostrophize the maypole with "Must I ravel out my weav'd up folly?"

This year I got to add "Withered is the garland of the war.  The soldier's pole is fallen," as footed in the mud, the whole erection toppled over.



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This was our customary dancing floor.  I gave it:

The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;

The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:

And as much else of "the seasons alter" as I could recall at that shivering hour.

There we sang "Te Deum Patrem colimus" to the pitiless heavens, and slogged on.

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)
Heavens!  A sublimely beautiful morning.  These are for Marian.




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Nymphs...

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...and shepherds.  Brueghel in Arcadia.



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Sunrise at the river


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Hermes' bicycle

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The joy of battle

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Merry and Pippin have a go (no strings attached)


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Unite and unite...

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Swan brother

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)
Early early this morning I made a proper pot of tea, just as [livejournal.com profile] madamebuttery  liked it:  a brown Rockingham teapot, well-warmed; a spoonful for each cup, and one more, of Yorkshire Gold.  Then I poured it out, with milk and sugar, into an Actors' Shakespeare Project thermos, and [livejournal.com profile] negothick  and I took it through the bird-charmed perfect dawning to the riverbank.

Her bench is there.  She wanted it just by the bridge, where she could watch the morris dancing and the rites of May, as she had done each spring for almost forty years.  I like to think that lovers will meet there and comic poets scrawl; that the puzzled will find ways to fix things, and the sad take heart.

A knot of us who loved her dearly poured libations of the tea about the bench, and drank there to her memory.

By then, the bells were stirring and the sun rose up.  We joined the dance.

Dum possumus, vivamus  :  Let us live while we May.

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)
The rising of the sun is danced, rejoiced in, rallied, criticized, by spirits benevolent and enigmatic.

























 

 

 

 
...by spirits benevolent... ...and enigmatic.

 

 


Merry May!

Nine
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Eustace Tilley looks on In the party field
Eustace Tilley looks on
 
In the party field
 
Caelesti mentem gratia... The nine-men's morris is filled up with mud...
Caelesti mentem gratia...
 
The nine-men's morris is filled up with mud...
 
iMorris! Handwork
iMorris!
 
Handwork
 
Whosoever pulleth this sword from this scone...  
Whosoever pulleth this sword from this scone...
 
 


Nine

nineweaving: (Default)

The garlands are faded; but the memory (in bytes) is green.  This year's May morning:


































...long before the day O... For O, the hobbyhorse is forgot
...long before the day O...
 
For O, the hobbyhorse is forgot
 
Uncloistered unicorn Jingle, thwack, atchoo!
Uncloistered unicorn
 
Jingle, thwack, atchoo!
 
Frolicking crossly with garlands Weaved-up follies
Frolicking crossly with garlands
 
Weaved-up follies
 
Dip and dive The great Cod of Cluefulness
Dip and dive
 
The great Cod of Cluefulness
 

Nine


nineweaving: (Default)
This was the coldest, most exquisite May morning:  frost on flowers, clouds of breath, and light like sauterne.  Trees like seraphim alighting, rooted and aethereal, green and burning.  We sang.  There were morris dancers--jingle, thwack! atchoo!—of every stripe and tatter; there was a most excellent hobby horse called Abraham; there was a progress with a tipsy maypole from the river to the town;  at every other step,  the handkerchiefs flew up like white birds flighted, like seven times seven swan princelings, blinding in the sun.

Afterward, I staggered home for an hour's nap, then was rousted out to celebrate [personal profile] sovay's latest laurels--Mistress of Arts--over cups of deep dark chocolate, silky as a villain's voice..

Wake up, wake up, you pretty fair maid
Wake from your drowsy dream
And step into your dairy house
And fetch us a cup of cream

Then we went bookshopping.  She resisted temptation nobly, but I fell for a book on Prehistoric Avebury and a selection of writings by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, including her Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World (1666).

And now I must fall over.  Must.

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)
Once more, O deities and demigods of earth, we gathered by the Charles at dawn to bring the summer in.  For once it didn't rain.  The old crowd, ever new, came out on one of the loveliest of mornings, silver-gilt.  True spring, with a cold clear edge to it:  not summer at its full but crescent; silvery, not a honeyed gold.  And we were wondrous merry.  But when we'd danced the maypole to our old-accustomed lawn, our threshing-floor, we found it seeded and roped off.   Damn.  So we carolled in the street, and SUVs threadneedled through our ribbons, like sharks through a shipwreck.

Here's a garland of years past:

2006

2005

1999-2000

1994-1998

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)



"And must I ravel out my weaved-up folly?"

No one danced widdershins, and yet the spell went awry:  a sky of flawless crystalline turned surly as we danced.  Clouds like a huddle of cuckold sheep, with a shrewd wind nipping at their heels.

A merry meeting nonetheless.

Here's a garland of May for you, a circlet of years, still green in memory:

[See below:  for some reason, the links won't work here.  Sorry.]

Nine

Amazement

1 May 2005 07:29 pm
nineweaving: (Default)
Works every time for me: doing the Witchy Dance up from the river into town, by way of all the greens, to sackbut and squeezebox, and pipe and tabor, and a couple of scrawny fiddles and a drum. It's a silliness that makes solemnity, and not t'other way round: which suits me. But then I'm built for this sort of revel, with hips like the Padstow Oss.

A couple of huge guys, black as basalt idols--cloaks, shaven heads and all--loomed out of the predawn mist, wished us a pleasant May morning, and vanished.

Being a Sunday (though a drizzly one at first), there were lots of children underfoot. The little votaries in white were there, with their Lady of green; and with just one copperheaded boy, aloof and ablaze. There was a pursy little boy with a fiddle, like the world's youngest sketch by Boz; a newborn in a tiny beribboned morris vest; a joyfully sturdy little girl, maybe three years old, skipping and leaping and waving her empty hands, amid a great herd of grown men: keeping up with them. Keeping measure. Perfectly fearless, though they were jumping as high as she was tall.

After thirty years of practice by performance, the ever-changing we has finally learned all the parts of the May Morning hymn ("Te Deum Patrem colimus," the one in Gaudy Night).

All danced a lolloping Circassian circle, black ties and folkies intermingling. The black ties have also learned their part in the mummery by taking part: a tradition handed down through generations of undergraduates, like monkeys passing on the art of shellfish bashing. They do a spiff receiving line.

Many good Morris teams turned out, with a cracking good women's rapper side. (If you haven't seen this, it's a sort of bracelet of dancers, loosely linked by sprung-steel, double-ended swords: the object is to knot a pentacle of steel, without ever letting go.) They were doing the tesseract thing in quick time: mingle mangle under over everybody else's bodies, tangling and tumbling backward over steel. Clogs going like a string of firecrackers, swords going brisk brisk on the paving stones, as they jumped the blades. They danced until the gunpowder ran out of the heels of their boots.

Madame B. had made excellent Banbury cakes, and was handing out slices. An acquaintance looked wistful, but shook her head: "Can't have it." And pulling out her pendant on its chain: "Six points to my pentacle."

Nine
nineweaving: (Default)
1999

A-Maying. Glorious weather, moonset and sunrise. All sorts of morris. And a splendid hobby-horse, prancing and curvetting, sidling and shying. Great glass-eyed head, a skein of mane and tail, and the most elegant upholstered petticoats with a fringe. His dancer never said a word, but led through all the longways dances, wore a backpack and a topper, centaur-like. He played the squeeze-box and gave ecstatic toddlers rides.

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Was much amused by the scene of dancers frolicking about the Maypole, to the tune of "Yellow Submarine." Also by the all-night party-ers, in black tie and exiguous spangles, who joined in the dancing, for as many as will.

2000

Fresh woods and pastures new

Bonny May!

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Absolutely gorgeous May morning. All a bit giddy after weeks of cold rain. Set out with the last stars fading and the sky a deep luminous bluegreen. It paled, turning rosegold at the hem, then flawless Virgin's mantle blue. Leaves dazzling. So we brought in the spring. A heady feeling.

It's milkier now.

What the hey, it was a lovely and a lively celebration. Everyone sang like birds, and danced; and even the May pole ribbons wove up neatly and unwove. (And I murmured, as I always do, "O must I ravel out my weaved-up follies?" as they turned widdershins to disentangle.)

When I got to the river, there was a shivering little band of anthropology students huddled on the bridge with notebooks. They asked plaintively, "Is something going to happen?" "Soon," I said.

The revellers drifted in by twos and threes, yawning and bedizened, fantastically masked and garlanded; they drove the May pole in the ground. Much jingling and thwacking.

The long-legged squire of the Morris came in bells and ribbons and a trig white tailcoat; the mistress of the May, as tall as he, wore trousers and a simple straw of more than Arcadian shadiness.

The Cotswolds dancers turned out in clean linen and bright frippery.

The Border Morris came in tattercoats, like wild men in a tapestry; they capered and they clashed like goats.

A fata Morgana appeared in loose silk trousers and a spangled scarf, with a violet half-mask hung with moss-green ribands like a beard. Or Beardsley. Could have been Titania as Tamburlaine, or maybe Oberon reviving Salome. Or Bosie's ghost.

The young things from the May Ball at the river Houses tripped over in exiguous wisps of black cypress and stiletto heels.

Bruce the ex-satyr came. He used to dance goatshod, in nothing but a faun suit: shaggy smalls and wicked little horns. Now he has a child on his shoulders (it comes to them all, eh?).

Old Poppy came, as ever. Don't think she's changed a hair in twenty years. Round and rosy and apple-cheeked, a dumpling like a minor deity. Hat wreathed with tulips, and a basket of flowers to give away. Like someone out of Mary Poppins.

Madame [B.] was no less elegant, in a flat straw bonnet decked with grape hyacinths and kitchen herbs, and a long green cloak. She looked like a fairy godmother out of a Victorian picture book. Too shrewd and witty for Kate Greenaway, too earthy for MacDonald. Mrs. Ewing, perhaps?

[G.] brought a new puppet: marvelous furious green face, grey spikes of hair; black dress and pointy hat, striped stockings; black spiked-heeled witch boots. Called Esme (what else?). You can stick your hands in her gloves and make menacing clawed hands, my pretty.

And she brought a loaf with a green man's face baked into it, within a plaited wreath of bread. Clove eyes and sun-burnt cheeks. Not a wood god, but the Sun in grain. She danced in and out with him amid the wildmen. And at last he was torn to pieces, devoured by a rabble of Maenads and gonads

Last of all, grave but joyful, came a band of nymphs, the deer-legged votaries of Artemis, who leapt and clashed with long braids flying, dark and fiery and fair. Still children. Cold as April. On a pole wound Maywise with ribands, they bore the loveliest of garlands: hoops fixed crosswise in an orb, wound with ivy, crowned with flowers, trailing tendrils like a thyrsus. In it hung a Lady made of grass. She had a fichu of pale leaves, a sort of Breton bonnet in white flowers--bindweed? morning glories?--and a rake of grass blades in her hand. Reaper to herself, the mower mown. A Marvellian paradox, to go with all those moon-cold crescent girls: "And flow'rs and grass, and I, and all / Will in one common ruin fall..."

And as ever, we processed from green to dancing green behind a sally of music, fiddlers and taborers: the garland bobbing and the May pole streaming, the long bright serpentine of dancers weaving in and out, their hankies flapping like clean sheets at the morning of the world.

I love that.

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And the daphne's in flower. Great wafts of it.

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Golden nymphs and fauns all must / As drab domestics, sweep and dust.

Nine

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