One May Morning Early

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The nightingale is “par eccelance” the bird of May as well as a symbol of poetry.
Saffo recited in one of his famous fragments
Lovable nightingale voice
spring messenger
“The Sweet Nightingale” (The Birds in the Spring), “By the Green Grove” and “One May Morning Early” they are three titles for the same traditional English song whose melody competes with the nightingale chant. Not to be confused with the traditional cornish song always entitled “The Sweet Nightingale“. The song is widespread especially in the south of England in the repertoire of George Maynard and the Copper family.
The text is very simple and serene more a pretext to imitate a nightingale chant than to tell a story, it is more precisely the fleeting and magical moment that marks the dawn on a spring day with the singing of nightingales that greets the rising sun.
In early spring nightingales sing mostly at night or at dusk until dawn, to delimit the territory and attract the female. Late spring nightingales can be heard clearly even during the day.

from Wiki
Chris Moore

Beth Gadbaw, Frederic Pouille, Sandra Wong live

Bellowhead from Burlesque 2006 
Andy Turner from A Song for a Week 

I
One May morning early I chanced for to roam,
and strolled through the fields by the side of the grove (road).
It was there I did hear the harmless birds sing,
and you never heard so sweet, you never heard so sweet
you never heard so sweet as the birds in the spring(1)
II
At the end of the grove (road) I sat myself down,
and the song of the nightingale echoed all around.
Their song was so charming, their notes were so clear,
no music no songster, no music no songster,
no music no songster can with them compare.
III
All you that come here the small birds to hear,
I’ll have you pay attention so pray all draw near.
And when you’re growing old (2) you will have this to say,
that you never heard so sweet, you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet as the birds in the spring (3).

NOTES
1) or as the nightingale sing
2) In the past the song of the nightingale was considered a painkiller, and even today it is considered a valid sound in the music-therapy
3) or as the birds on the spray

second part

LINK
https://www.omniglot.com/songs/bcc/onemaymorning.php
https://mainlynorfolk.info/copperfamily/songs/thebirdsinthespring.html
https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/birds-in-the-spring/

Il canto dell’usignolo al Maggio

Read the post in English

L’usignolo è “par eccelance” l’uccello del mese di Maggio nonchè simbolo della poesia.
Recitava Saffo in uno dei suoi celebri frammenti
Usignolo amabile voce
messaggero di primavera“The Sweet Nightingale” (The Birds in the Spring), “By the Green Grove” e “One May Morning Early” sono tre titoli per la stessa canzone tradizionale inglese la cui melodia gareggia con i gorgheggi dell’usignolo. Da non confondere con il canto tradizionale diffuso in Cornovaglia sempre dal titolo “The Sweet Nightingale” Il brano è diffuso in particolare nel sud dell’Inghilterra nel repertorio di George Maynard e della famiglia Copper.
Il testo è molto semplice e sereno più un pretesto per imitare il canto dell’usignolo che per raccontare una storia, è più precisamente l’attimo fuggente e magico che segna l’alba in un giorno di primavera con il canto degli usignoli che saluta il sole nascente.
All’inizio della primavera gli usignoli cantano prevalentemente di notte o al tramonto fino all’alba, per delimitare il territorio e attrarre la femmina. A primavera inoltrata gli usignoli si possono sentire nitidamente anche durante il giorno.

da Wiki
Chris Moore
Beth Gadbaw, Frederic Pouille, Sandra Wong live

Bellowhead in Burlesque 2006 
Andy Turner in A Song for a Week 


I
One May morning early I chanced for to roam,
and strolled through the fields by the side of the grove (road).
It was there I did hear the harmless birds sing,
and you never heard so sweet, you never heard so sweet
you never heard so sweet as the birds in the spring(1)
II
At the end of the grove (road) I sat myself down,
and the song of the nightingale echoed all around.
Their song was so charming, their notes were so clear,
no music no songster, no music no songster,
no music no songster can with them compare.
III
All you that come here the small birds to hear,
I’ll have you pay attention so pray all draw near.
And when you’re growing old (2) you will have this to say,
that you never heard so sweet, you never heard so sweet,
you never heard so sweet as the birds in the spring (3).
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
All’alba di un mattino di Maggio mi sono ritrovato
a passeggiare tra i campi accanto al boschetto (strada)
fu là che ho sentito cantare i miti uccellini e non si è mai sentito un canto tanto dolce, non si è mai sentito un canto tanto dolce, non si è mai sentito un canto tanto dolce come quello degli uccelli in primavera
II
Alla fine del boschetto (strada) mi sono seduto
e il canto degli usignoli risuonava tutt’intorno.
Il loro canto era così affascinante, con i toni così chiari
che la musica di nessun cantante, la musica di nessun cantante,
la musica di nessun cantante si può paragonare alla loro.
III
Tutti voi che venite qui ad ascoltare gli uccellini
prestate attenzione, vi prego di avvicinarvi,
quando inizierete a invecchiare dovrete dire questo:
che non avete mai  sentito un canto tanto dolce, non avete mai  sentito un canto tanto dolce, non avete mai  sentito un canto tanto dolce come quello degli uccelli in primavera.

NOTE
1) as the nightingale sing
2) In passato il canto dell’usignolo veniva considerato un antidolorifico, e ancora oggi è considerasto un suono valido nella musico-terapia
3) as the birds on the spray= come gli uccelli nella foschia: credo che spray traduca quella leggera nebbiolina del mattino che si disperde al primo caldo raggio di sole

seconda parte

FONTI
https://www.omniglot.com/songs/bcc/onemaymorning.php
https://mainlynorfolk.info/copperfamily/songs/thebirdsinthespring.html
https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/birds-in-the-spring/

Jack in the Green festival

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man-natureThe Green Man is an archetypal figure connected with the cycle of nature, it is the immanent green force of Nature. The myth tells of a Goddess, the Mother, who generates her child, but this child is not immortal, and because the cycle of life is renewed, he must die.
His death and rebirth are the regeneration of the Spring and with it the regeneration of the community that celebrates the rite for propitiate fertility.

The Green Man  is the guardian spirit of the woods, perhaps an ancient god of vegetation and fertility transversal to many cultures that takes the name of Pan, Cernunnos, Dionysus ..

Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud

It is depicted as a human face among the green foliage or rather its skin is of foliage: in the illustration (Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud) they are artistically reproduced oak leaves, holly, ivy and the palmate leaf of the Maple. Two branches look like horns, the eyes are reddish like those of the fairies of Avalon, among the branches a sprig of mistletoe grows with its berry, the sacred plant of the Druids.
From the mouth of the Green Man sprouts the rowan twigs with the characteristic red berries. The rowan of the birds, as it is commonly called, represents in the Druidic tradition the rebirth of light after the winter and was therefore considered the tree par excellence of the awakening of Nature.

And yet all this veneration of the past was lost in the Middle Ages when the old gods died and the Green Man became a sort of decorative mask to be understood sometimes as benign but more often as a depiction of the evil one.

green-man
British Library, Add MS 18850, the ‘Bedford Hours’ , Paris XV century

 

TRIPLE NATURE OF GREEN MAN

Notre Dame la Grande, Politiers : X century

The deep bond between man and nature is all in the archetype of the green man, the man metamorphosed into a tree, the indissoluble bond between man and nature and its laws. A bond that instills fear but also peace and tranquility hence the ambivalence of the benign or malicious symbol depending on the context: the images smile benevolently or are mocking and fierce. But there is a third type of Green Man: one in which the faces seem scared and suffering.

If some Green Man, instead of joyous, look scary, we find others that, on the contrary, seem scared. These are certainly not demons, but we can not even associate them with images that celebrate the relationship between man and nature. We are faced with another value that this image can take on, that of suffering. In the late Middle Ages, especially after the terrifying experience of the pestilence known as the Black Death, there are rarely joyful and peaceful Green Men. Often branches and leaves stick out of the eyes, in an image that can be terrifying; sometimes the teeth are protruding or very pronounced, as if trying to bite the plant that protrudes from the mouth, to cut it and thus free itself from its suffocating grip. Finally, sometimes we find deformed faces and this too is a very strong signal for the medieval mentality: at that time, in fact, the deformities were a phenomenon much more frequent and known than in the present day, due to insecurity on the places of work, malnutrition and poor care for poor people, and not too advanced medicine. Such incidents in a man’s life were always associated with some divine punishment for his sins. A suffering face that turns into a plant, therefore, puts the accent on the boundary between natural and supernatural, and can sound like a warning against sin and temptations. Another typical representation that can be found is that of Green Man that show the language, probably inspired by the classic Gorgon masks, where it was supposed that this gesture had the sense to drive away evil. It is certain, however, that the people of the Middle Ages did not look at this image in the same way: beyond, in fact, the passages of the Bible that speak of the language as an “unseemly organ”, something that if shown could give rise to scandal, a face with the tongue outside also remembered the image of the hanged man, so certainly not pleasant. (translate from here)

JACK IN THE GREEN

Trisha Fountain Design

In the English folk tradition The Green Man is reborn in a popular May mask of medieval origins (and presumably even more ancient). “Green Jack” was a popular mask of the English May, from the Middle Ages and until the Victorian era, fallen into disuse at the end of the nineteenth century, it returned to show itself and spread to starting from the 1970s in May Day parades.

William Hone in his “The every day book” of 1878 describes the mask of Jack-o’-the-Green “Formerly a pleasant character dressed out with ribands and flowers, figured in village May-games under the name of The Jack-o’-the-Green would sometimes come into the suburbs of London and amuse the residents by rustic dancing.. A Jack-o’-the-Green always carried a long walking stick with floral wreaths; he whisked it about the dance, and afterwards walked with it in high estate like a lord mayor’s footman”

Jack’s mask is further spectacularized by the guild of chimney sweeps, with a boy inside a pyramid-shaped wicker structure, covered with ivy and foliage, surmounted by a kind of wreath of flowers. He went out into the streets with his other friends to dance and collect offers in money. see more

HASTINGS JACK IN THE GREEN FESTIVAL

As well as the other parts of England, the custom was lost in the early twentieth century, but in Hastings  (East Sussex, England) the local group of Morris dance, “Mad Jacks” has had the brilliant idea to resume the tradition, mainly organizing a noisy and green festival that lasts a long weekend from Friday to Monday! Songs and dances, drum races, folk music sessions, concerts, follow each other to culminate the last day in the costume parade with the Morris dancers, musicians, chimney sweeps, queens of May, wild men, and green men, to greet the return of Jack, so a long procession is formed behind him, from 10 in the morning until noon where they converges in the stage on the West Hill where among foods, drinks, performances of participants, crafts fair we spend the afternoon for arrive at 4 when Jack is symbolically killed and stripped of his leaves which are thrown to the crowd as a good luck charm.
Ewan Golder & Daniel Penfold movie (The Child Wren’s music),  they write in the video notes “Since 1983 folk-lore revivalists have organised the annual Jack In The Green Festival held over the May Day weekend in Hastings. The ‘Jack’, covered head to foot in garlands of flowers and leaves, is paraded through the streets before being ‘ sacrificed’. His death marks the end of winter and the birth of summer. Beltane is the Gaelic name of this festival. The film follows Jack’s journey through the streets of Hastings, to his inevitable demise upon the hilltop.

Jethro Tull,  from “Songs from the wood“, 1977

JACK IN THE GREEN
I
Have you seen Jack(1)-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree –
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground –
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.
II
It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green –
no place to dance, no time for song.(2)
He wears the colours of the summer soldier –
carries the green flag all the winter long.
<
III
Jack, do you never sleep –
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so –
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
IV
The rowan(3), the oak and the holly tree(4)
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming(5).
Jack, put out the light.

NOTES
1) Jack is the diminutive of two different names James and John, but more than a name right here is to indicate the Green Man
2) the first of May was the feast of Green Jack, with the masks that went around singing and dancing for begging
3)  The druids considered the rowan the tree of the Down of the year and it was the symbol of the return of light for its spring rebirth. But they consider most sacred the fruits that they thought were the food of the gods, able to rejuvenate, to prolong life, to satiate and to treat serious wounds. The tree was often planted near houses and stalls to protect them, because it was believed to turn away lightning; if it grew spontaneously close to the houses, it was a bearer of good luck. (translated from here)
4) Holly is a tree with masculine symbology, linked to fraternal love and paternity, the winter counterpart of the Quercia. Sir James George Frazer, in his book “The Golden Bough” and Robert Graves, in “The White Goddess” and “The Greek Myths”, they describe a ritual ceremony that was, according to them, practiced in Ancient Rome and in other more ancient European cultures: the ritual fight between King Holly and King Quercia, a struggle that guaranteed the alternation of winter and summer seasons.  (see more)
5) The thrushes and the blackbirds are insensitive to the toxicity of the holly berries and consume large quantities of them becoming the disseminators. The male holly starts to flower when it is about 20 years old and produces small, fragrant white-rosy flowers from May to June. The berries (on the female holly) are green and in autumn they become a shiny red similar to coral: they remain on the tree for the whole winter constituting an important source of food for the birds (be careful because the berries are instead toxic for the man)

second part

LINK
http://www.hastingsjitg.co.uk/
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/jack-in-the-green-chimney-sweeps-day/
http://www.angolohermes.com/Simboli/Green_Man/Green_Man.html
http://insidetheobsidianmirror.blogspot.it/2013/09/la-vera-natura-delluomo-verde.html

Beltane Love Chase: The Two Magicians

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63_rackham_siegfried_grimhildeLove Chase is a typical theme of popular songs, according to the proper ways of the courting song it is the contrast between two lovers, in whice he tries to conquer her and she rejects him or banters in a comic or coarse situation
So the ballad “The Twa Magicians” is a Love Hunt in which the natural prudery of the maid teases the man, because her denial is an invitation to conquer.

THE TWA MAGICIANS

The ballad originates from the north of Scotland and the first written source is in Peter Buchan’s “Ancient Ballads and Song of the North of Scotland” – 1828, later also in Child # 44 (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child ). It is believed to come from the Norse tradition. The versions are numerous, as generally happens for popular ballads spread in the oral tradition, and even with different endings. In its “basic” form it is the story of a blacksmith who intends to conquer a virgin; but the girl flees, turning into various animals and even objects or elements of Nature; the man pursues her by changing form himself.
There is a written trace of the theme already in 1630 in a ballad entitled “The two kind and Lovers” – in which however the woman is to chase the man.
The ballad begins with the woman who says

if thou wilt goe, Love,
let me goe with thee
Because I cannot live,
without thy company
Be thou the Sunne,
Ile be the beames so bright,
Be thou the Moone.
Ile be the lightest night:
Be thou Aurora,
the usher of the day,
I will be the pearly dew,
upon the flowers gay.
Be thou the Rose,
thy smell I will assume,
And yeeld a sweet
odoriferous perfume

It is therefore a matter of complementary and non-opposing couples, a sort of total surrender to love on the part of the woman who declares her fidelity to man. Let us not forget that ancient ballads were also a form of moral teaching.
And yet we find buried in the text traces of initiation rituals, pearls of wisdom or druidic teachings, so the two wizards are transformed into animals associated with the three kingdoms, Nem (sky), Talam (Earth) Muir (sea) or world above, middle and below and the mystery is that of spiritual rebirth.
Other similarities are found with the ballad “Hares on the Mountain

BUCHAN VERSION

In general, the Love Chase ends with the consensual coupling.
Today’s version of “The Two Magicians” is based on the rewriting of the text and the musical arrangement of Albert Lancaster Lloyd (1908-1982) for the album “The Bird in the Bush” (1966);

(all the verses except XV and XVI)

Celtic stone from Celtic Stone, 1983: (American folk-rock group active in the 80s and 90s), an ironic vocal interpretation, a spirited musical arrangement that happily combines acoustic guitar with the dulcimer hammer (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XIV, X, XV, XVI, XVII)

Damh the Bard from Tales from the Crow Man, 2009. Another minstrel of the magical world in a more rock version (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XII, X, XIV, XV, XVI,XVII, XVIII)

Jean-Luc Lenoir from “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2013 (voice Joanne McIver) 
– a lively and captivating arrangement taken from a traditional (it’s a mixer between the two melodies)
Owl Service from Wake The Vaulted Echo (2006)
Empty Hats from The Hat Came Back, 2000 the choice of speech is very effective

VERSIONE A.L. Lloyd
I
The lady stood at her own front door
As straight as a willow wand
And along come a lusty smith (1)
With his hammer in his hand
CHORUS
Saying “bide lady bide
there’s a nowhere you can hide
the lusty smith will be your love
And he will lay your pride”.
II
“Well may you dress, you lady fair,
All in your robes of red  (2)
Before tomorrow at this same time
I’ll have your maidenhead.”
III
“Away away you coal blacksmith
Would you do me this wrong?
To have me maidenhead
That I have kept so long”
IV
I’d rather I was dead and cold
And me body in the grave
Than a lusty, dusty, coal black smith
Me maide head should have”
V
Then the lady she held up her hand
And swore upon the spul
She never would be the blacksmith’s love
For all of a box of gold  (3)
VI
And the blacksmith he held up his hand/And he swore upon the mass,
“I’ll have you for my love, my girl,
For the half of that or less.”
VII
Then she became a turtle dove
And flew up in the air
But he became an old cock pigeon
And they flew pair and pair
VIII
And she became a little duck,
A-floating in the pond,
And he became a pink-necked drake
And chased her round and round.
IX
She turned herself into a hare  (4)
And ran all upon the plain
But he became a greyhound dog
And fetched her back again
X
And she became a little ewe sheep
and lay upon the common
But he became a shaggy old ram
And swiftly fell upon her.
XI
She changed herself to a swift young mare, As dark as the night was black,
And he became a golden saddle
And clung unto her back.
XII
And she became a little green fly,
A-flew up in the air,
And he became a hairy spider
And fetched her in his lair.
XIII
Then she became a hot griddle (5)
And he became a cake,
And every change that poor girl made
The blacksmith was her mate.
XIV
So she turned into a full-dressed ship
A-sailing on the sea
But he became a captain bold
And aboard of her went he
XV 
So the lady she turned into a cloud
Floating in the air
But he became a lightning flash
And zipped right into her
XVI
So she turned into a mulberry tree
A mulberry tree in the wood
But he came forth as the morning dew
And sprinkled her where she stood.
XVII
So the lady ran in her own bedroom
And changed into a bed,
But he became a green coverlet
And he gained her maidenhead
XVIII
And was she woke, he held her so,
And still he bad her bide,
And the husky smith became her love
And that pulled down her pride.

NOTES
1) in popular songs the blacksmith is considered a synonym of virility, a very gifted lover with a portentose force. Here he is also a magician armed with a hammer while the girl is a antagonist (or complementary) holds a willow wand.
One thinks of a sort of duel or challenge between two practicing wizards
2) in ancient ballads some words are codes that make the alarm bells ring out in the listener: red is the color of fairies or creatures with Magic powers. Red was also the color of the bride in antiquity and is a favorable color for fertility
3) also written as “pot of gold” and immediately it come to mind the leprechaun
4) the hare-hound couple is the first of the transformations in the Welsh myth of Taliesin’s birth. Gwion is the pursued that turns into a lunar animal, takes in itself the female principle symbol of abundance-fertility, but also creativity-intuition, becomes pure instinct, frenzy.
The dog is not only predator, but also guardian and psychopomp ‘The dog plays with many populations the function of guardian of the sacred places, guide of the man on the night of death, defender of the kingdom of the dead, overseer in all cases of the kingdom spiritual.
In particular among the Celts it was associated with the world of the Warriors. In fact, the dog was present in the Warrior initiations. Hunting, like war, was a sacred act that could be accomplished only after an initiation and a ritual preparation of divine protection. (Riccardo Taraglio from Il Vischio e la Quercia) 
see more
5) scottish pancake: a special tool to cook the Beltane bannock.The two iron griddle could be smooth or variously decorated honeycomb or floral carvings, written or geometric designs, were hinged on one side and equipped with a long handle: placed on the fire it was turned over for cooking on the other side. In the Middle Ages they had become masterpieces of forging made by master wares or refined silversmiths, and they were a traditional engagement gift. see more

Ferro da cialde, Umbria, sec. XVI

SHARP VERSION

The song is reported by Cecil Sharp in One Hundred English Folksongs (1916) in the notes he says he heard it from Mr. Sparks (a blacksmith), Minehead, Somerset, in 1904.

Steeleye Span from “Now we are six”, 1974 – a funny video animation

I
She looked out of the window
as white as any milk
And he looked in at  the window
as black as any silk
CHORUS
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
you coal blacksmith

You have done me no harm
You never shall  have my maidenhead
That I have kept so long
I’d rather die a maid
Ah, but then she said
and be buried all in my grave

Than to have such a nasty,
husky, dusky, fusky, musky

Coal blacksmith,
a maiden, I will die

II
She became a duck,
a duck all on the stream
And he became a water dog (1)
and fetched her back again.
She became a star,
a star all in the night
And he became a thundercloud
And muffled her out of sight.
III
She became a rose,
a rose all in the wood
And he became a bumble bee  (2)
And kissed her where she stood.
She became a nun,
a nun all dressed in white
And he became a canting priest
And prayed for her by night.
IV
She became a trout,
a trout all in the brook
And he became a feathered fly
And caught her with his hook.
She became a corpse,
a corpse all in the ground
And he became the cold clay
and smothered her all around (3)

NOTES
1) water dog is a large swimmer retriever dog or a dog trained for swamp hunting,
2) the bumblebee is related to the bees, but does not produce honey and is much larger and stocky than the bee
3) “Which part of the word NO do not you understand?” that is, the categorical and virginal refusal of the woman to the sexual act repeatedly attempted by an ugly, dark and even stinking blacksmith. In escaping the man’ s longing she turns into duck, star, rose, nun and trout (and he in marsh dog, cloud, bumblebee, priest, fishing hook); apparently the girl prefers her death rather than undergoing a rape: this is a distorted way of interpreting the story, it is the “macho” mentality convinced that woman is not a victim but always in complicit with the violence and therefore to be condemned.
In my opinion, instead, it is the return to the earth with the fusion of the feminine principle with the male one; the two, now lost in the vortex of transformations, merge into a single embrace of dust and their death is a death-rebirth.

Beltane Fire Festival

THE BLACKSMITH

The hunter man here is a “supernatural” figure, the blacksmith was considered in ancient times a creature endowed with magical powers, the first blacksmiths were in fact the dwarves (the black or dark elves) able to create weapons and enchanted jewels. The art of forge was an ancient knowledge that was handed down among initiates.
So in the Middle Ages the figure of the blacksmith took on negative connotations, just think of the many “forges of the devil” or “the pagan” that gave the name to a place once a forge.

Vulcan Roman God, Andrea Mantegna

By virtue of his craft, the smith is a mighty man with well-developed muscles, yet precisely because of his knowledge and power the smith is often lame or deformed: if he is a mortal his impairment is a sign that he has seen some divine secret, that is, it has seen a hidden aspect of the divinity thus it is punished forever; it is the knowledge of the secret of fire and of metals, which turn from solid to liquid and blend into alloys. In many mythologies the same gods are blacksmiths (Varuna, Odin), they are wizards and they have paid a price for their magic.
The lameness also hides another metaphor: that of the overcame test that underlies the research, be it a spiritual conquest or a healing or revenge act (a fundamental theme in the Grail cycle).

But the magicians of the ballad are two so the girl is also a shapeshifter or perhaps a shaman.

SHAPE-SHIFTER

Cerridwen_EmpowermentThe theme of transformation is in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: a succession of Olympian gods who, through their lust, transform themselves into animals (but also in golden rain) and seduce beautiful mortals or nymphs.
The pursuit through the mutation of the forms recalls the chase between Cerridwen and his apprentice in the Welsh history of the the bard Taliesin birth (534-599) . A boy is escaping, having drunk the magic potion from the cauldron he was watching over; he escapes the wrath of the goddess by becoming various animals (hare, fish, bird). At the end he is a wheat grain to hide like a classic needle in a haystack, but the goddess changed into a hen eating it. From this unusual coupling is born Taliesin alias Merlin

THE SONG OF AMERGIN *
I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?


That is, in order to become Wisdom, to Understand, one must experience the elements …

This poem by Taliesin could condense the mystery of the initiatory journey, in which Wisdom is conquered with the knowledge of the elements, which is profound experience, identification, through the penetration of their own essence, becoming the same traveler the essence of the elements.
Changing shape means experiencing everything, experiencing oneself in everything in continuous change and experiencing the encounter between the self and the other, prey and predator, not separated but inseparably linked, as in a dance.from here)

SCIAMANIC FLIGHT

The main characteristic of the shaman is to “travel” in conditions of ecstasy in the spirit world. The techniques for doing this are essentially the ecstatic sleep (mystical trance) and the transformation of one’s spirit into an animal. As a magical practice it involves a transformation of a part of the soul into the spirit of an animal to leave the body and travel in both the sensitive and the supersensible world. Another technique is to leave your body and take possession of the body of a living animal.

In this way the shaman “rides”, that is, takes as a means to move, the bodies of animals that are also his driving spirits. In some rituals, psychoactive plants are used, or the drum beat, or the skins or the mask of the animal that you want to “ride” are worn. This practice is not free from risks: it may happen that the shaman can no longer return to his body because he forgets himself, his human being, or travels too far from the body and falls into a coma or the physical body dies because too weakened by separation.
The spirit can be captured in the afterlife or the animal can be wounded or killed on the ground level and therefore, as the soul of the shaman is captured or wounded or killed, so does his body report its consequences.

second part 

LINK
http://web.tiscali.it/artigianidaltritempi/fabbro.htm
http://www.ynis-afallach-tuath.com/public/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=252
https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/thetwomagicians.html
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sciamani.html
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch044.htm
http://www.contemplator.com/child/2magics.html
http://www.ynis-afallach-tuath.com/public/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=247
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40723
http://www.yourultimateresource.com/the-two-magicians/

Lancashire, Yorkshire & Oxfordshire may day carols

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GREATER MANCHESTER – Lancashire

Manchester May Day.
“One tradition was for girls to don mainly white dresses, made from curtains or whatever, and carry around a broomstick representing a maypole. Another tradition was for boys to dress up in women’s clothing and to colour their faces – they were called molly dancers, ‘molly’ being an old expression for an effeminate man. Dr Cass[Dr Eddie Cass, the Folklore Society] says they went round quoting a verse. One such, from the Salford area, was: I’m a collier from Pendlebury brew. Itch Koo Pushing little wagons up a brew I earn thirty bob a week I’ve a wife and kids to keep I’m a collier from Pendlebury brew Dr Cass himself remembers both traditions. The girls would dance round the maypole and sing other songs, such as: Buttercups and daisies Oh what pretty flowers Coming in spring time To tell of sunny hours We come to greet you on the first of May We hope you will not send us away For we dance and sing our merry song On a maypole day (from here)

SWINTON MAY SONG

The version reproduced by Watersons in 1975 is taken from W & R Chamber “Book of Days” – 1869 – with words and music collected by Mr. Job Knight (1861) –  A.L. Lloyd comments
The critical seasons of the year—midwinter, coming of spring, onset of autumn—were times for groups of carollers to go through the villages singing charms for good luck, in hope of a reward of food, drink, money. This one was sung on May Eve or thereabouts in Yorkshire and Lancashire, but it’s much like similar songs from any other county.”

This song is  titled “Drawing Near the Merry Month of May” and the text is also reported in Edwin Waugh’s book “Lancashire Sketches” (1869)
The area of reference is Yorkshire and Lancashire and “Swinton” was a small borough, then Salford city now become a part of Manchester (England)

The Watersons from For Pence and Spicy Ale -1975

Brass Monkey from Flame of Fire – 2005

The two melodies are different, the version of the Brass Monkey recalls the Padstow May Song, another song of springtime still popular ritual in the town of Padstow, Cornwall.
As reported in Chambers’ Book of Day (1869), Swinton’s two songs were the Old May song and the New May song. The Old May Song was a so-called Night song that was sung during the night by groups of mayers accompanied with various musical instruments.

OLD MAY SONG

I
All in this pleasant evening together
come has we
for the summer springs so fresh and green and gay.
We’ll tell you of a blossom and a bud on every tree
Drawing near to the merry month of May
II
Rise up, the master of this house all in your chain of gold
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
We hope you’re not offended with your house we make so bold
Drawing near to the merry month of May
III
Rise up, the mistress of this house with gold all on your breast
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
And if your body is asleep we hope your soul’s at rest
Drawing near to the merry month of May
IV
Rise up, the children of this house, all in your rich attire
For the summer springs so gresh and green and gay.
And every hair all on your head shines like a silver wire
Drawing near to the merry month of May
V
God bless this house and arbor, your riches and your store
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
We hope that the Lord will prosper you both now and evermore
Drawing near to the merry month of May
VI
So now we’re going to leave you in peace and plenty here
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
We will not sing you May again until another year
For to drive you these cold winter nights away

Charles Daniel Ward: Processing of Spring -1905
Charles Daniel Ward: Processing of Spring -1905

We heve a direct testimony in the book”Memoirs of Seventy Years of an Eventful Life  from Charles Hulbert (Providence Grove, Near Shrewsbury:1852), pg 107
With feelings of indescribable pleasure, I still call to my remembrance various customs and scenes familiar to my early years. Still present is the delight with which I hailed the approach of May-day morning, when a select company of the musical Rustics of Worsley, Swinton and Eccles, would assemble at midnight to commence the grateful task of saluting their neighbours with the sound of the Clarionet, Hautboy, German Flute, Violin, and the melody of twenty voices. On this occasion the leader of the band would commence his song under the window or before the outer door of the family “he delighted to honour” with
O rise up Master of this House, all in your chain of gold,
For the summer springs so fresh, green and gay;
I hope you’ll not be angry at us for being so bold,
Drawing near to the merry month of May.
In this strain, including some encomiums or happy allusion to the various qualifications of all the other branches of the family the whole were saluted: after which a purse of silver or a few mugs of good ale were distributed among the company; thus they proceeded from house to house, tilling the air with their music and happy voices, till six o’clock in the morning.
Among the drinks with which the singers were refreshing their throat in addition to the inevitable beer there was also the Syllabub prepared with milk cream. see more

OXFORDSHIRE

THE SWALCLIFFE MAY DAY CAROL

CMB-009Here is the transcription of a 19th-century May song sung by Swalcliffe’s children, clearly a Day Song
Swalcliffe (pronounced sway-cliff) is a village near Banbury in North Oxfordshire. The words of this carol were noted by Miss Annie Norris around 1840 from the singing of a group of children in the village. The words were passed onto the collector – and Adderbury resident – Janet Blunt in 1908, and she finally collected a tune for the song from Mrs Woolgrove of Swalcliffe, and Mrs Lynes of Sibford, at Sibford fete, July 1921.” (from here)

Magpie Lane from The Oxford Ramble 1993

I
Awake! awake! lift up your eyes
And pray to God for grace
Repent! repent! of your former sins
While ye have time and space
II
I have been wandering all this night
And part of the last day
So now I’ve come for to sing you a song
And to show you a branch of May
III
A branch of may I have brought you
And at your door it stands
It does spread out, and it spreads all about
By the work of our Lord’s hands
IV
Man is but a man, his life’s but a span
He is much like a flower
He’s here today and he’s gone tomorrow
So he’s all gone down in an hour
V
So now I have sung you my little short song
I can no longer stay
God bless you all both great and small
And I wish you a happy May

LINK

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=129987 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=30126 http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/april/24.htm http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/ making_history/makhist10_prog5d.shtml https://mainlynorfolk.info/watersons/songs/ swintonmaysong.html http://www.magpielane.co.uk/sleevenotes/ oxford_ramble/may_day_carol.htm https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/ week-88-swalcliffe-may-day-carol/

Helston Flora Day (Cornwall)

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In Helston, Cornwall it takes place every year on 8 May the Furry Dance (Flora or Floral dance) in the Feast of St. Michael. The meaning of Furry is found in the root of the gaelic  fer = fair. Inside the program of the tipical dance there is a sacred representation with historical and mythical theme, which unfolds in a procession that starts from the church: the characters are Robin Hood and his brigade, Saint George and Saint Michael, which announce the arrival of Spring.
1834733

SEE MORE 

THE FURRY DANCE

The dance is a very long promenade of young couples (and not really young) parading behind the band: they are for the most part walking (or hopping step) alternating a couple of turns with their partner. There are two shows, one in the morning and the second in the midday with more formal dresses (long dress and elaborate hat for ladies, tight and top hat for gentlemen: of British origin, the tight or taitè also called morning dress because worn during the day, it is the male dress in public ceremonies and for all occasions concerning the English royal family.)


THE GAMES OF ROBIN HOOD

In the late Middle Ages the “Robin Hood Games” were practiced during the May Day. It began with a parade of the various characters of the legendary Robin Hood, the masks of the horse and the dragon and the May pole brought by the oxen. The May pole was then raised and a dance took place around it. After the buffoon performances of the horse and dragon masks the competition began: the challenge of archery.
At the end people dancing around the May pole until late. Tradition has lasted until the end of the nineteenth century

img013

LINK
http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/may/1.htm
http://hesternic.tripod.com/robinhood.htm http://www.boldoutlaw.com/robages/robages3.html http://www.roccadellecaminate.it/archi/encicopedia.html

THE HELSTONE FURRY-DAY SONG

More commonly known under the title “Hal an tow” is the main song in the representation of mummers at Flora Day in Helston.
The Watersons live (I, II, VII)

Shirley Collins & The Albion Country Band from ‘No Roses’ 1971( (III, IV IV, V)
Oysterband from Trawler 1994 (II, III, IV, VII) arranged in rock version has become very popular among the groups of the genre celtic-rock


CHORUS

Hal-an-Tow(1), jolly rumble-O
We were up long before the day-o
To welcome in the summertime
To welcome in the May-o
For summer is coming in
And winter’s gone away
I
Since man was first created
His works have been debated
We have celebrated
The coming of the Spring
II
Take the scorn and wear the horns(2)
It was the crest when you were born
Your father’s father wore it
And your father wore it too
III
Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-o
We shall to the merry green wood
To hunt the buck and hare-o (3)
IV
What happened to the Spaniards(4)
That made so great a boast-o?
They shall eat the feathered goose
And we shall eat the roast-o (5)V
As for Saint George(6), O!
Saint George he was a knight, O!
Of all the knights in Christendom,
Saint George is the right, O!
In every land, O!
The land where’er we go.
VI
But for a greater than St. George
Our Helston has the right-O
St. Michael with his wings outspread
The archangel so bright-O
Who fought the fiend-O
Of all mankind the foe
VII
God bless Aunt Mary Moses(7)
With all her power and might-o
Send us peace in England
Send us peace by day and night-o

NOTES
1)  The translation of Hal an tow could be “May day garland” (halan = calende) and the same name was attributed to the groups of youths who, early in the morning, went into the woods to cut the branches of the May and brought them to the village dancing and singing for the arrival of Spring.
But many scholars tend to refer to the meaning of “heel and toe,” referring to the dance step of the Morris dancing.
Another interpretation translates it as “pulling the rope” (from the Dutch “Haal aan het Touw” derived from the Saxon) referred to the work of the sailors on the ships but also to the game of tug of war, one of the few survivors from the May Games by Robin Hood. Some interpret all the stanzas in a seafaring key, as if the song were a sea-shanty and explain the term “rumbelow” as the rum in the vessel at the time of the pirates!
What shall he have that kill’d the deer? His leather skin and horns to wear. Then sing him home; Take thou no scorn to wear the  horn; It was a crest ere thou wast  born: Thy father’s father wore it, And thy father bore it: The horn, the horn, the lusty horn Is not a thing to laugh to scorn.How do you deny the reference to the deer god and, more generally, to the symbolism of the deer as a sacred animal, the bearer of fertility? see more
3) Shirley Collins:
To see what they do there-O
And for to chase-O
To chase the buck and doe
4) What happened to the Spaniards: the image is ironic about the Spaniards who eat goose feathers by english arrows to whom the roast goose is mockingly due as the winners
5)  Shirley Collins:
And we shall eat the roast-O
In every land-O
The land where’er we go
6) St George day in many populations of the Mediterranean rural world, represents the rebirth of nature and the arrival of Spring, the Saint has inherited the functions of a more ancient pagan deity associated with solar cults: St. George defeating the Dragon became the solar god who defeats the darkness. see more
7) Aunt Mary Moses: Our Lady  Originally, therefore, the invocation was a prayer referring to the goddess of spring. In other versions the sentence becomes”The Lord and Lady bless you” 

Lisa Knapp from Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=40451
http://www.mudcat.org/Detail.CFM?messages__Message_ID=160194
http://mainlynorfolk.info/watersons/songs/halantow.html

Obby Oss Festival

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On May 1, in Padstow, a characteristic event called “Obby Oss Festival” is celebrated, centered on the Hobby Horse dance; Padstow is a small fishing port of North Cornwall on the mouth of the river Camel, now a tourist destination.

padstow oss
Oss and his teazer

The Oss are two, one of the Red group(the old horse) and the other of the Blue group (a more recent addition of the Victorian era): the masks are identical, looking fierce and black dressed , which emerge from a characteristic round shape (a circle of 2 meters) edged to the ground by the black fabric: the horses are led by their “teazers” a jugglers with a characteristic stick followed by a cortege of dancers and musicians (mostly drums and accordions): the dominant color in the parade is the white with red or blue depending on the group.

The Oss during his dance – revolving on himself and kicking – seems to war with the teazer or he is courting the young women, who if dragged under the mantle of the oss will become pregnant within the year (or they will get married by the year if they are still young maids)!

Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy and filmmaker George Pickow collected footage at Padstow in 1951

AT THE BEGINNIG

It is not easy to find the origins of the ritual that is celebrated in Padstow, some indications come from the history of the village: the first settlement was the monastery built by St. Petroc in his mission of evangelization (VI century), but it was destroyed by a Viking raid in 981. Thus the monks moved further inside to Bodmin. Some hypothesize that the ceremony took place on that occasion as an extreme attempt at defense.
obby_oss_sHistorical references of the Oss date back to the late Middle Ages (early 1500) with traces still in the Victorian era: in 1803 is documented the presence of a horse made with the skin of a stallion with a man inside who sprinkled water on the crowd.

Some scholars trace the ritual to pre-Christian celebrations, connected with the Celtic festival of Beltane. Donald R. Rawe compare the oss to thehobby  horses of the Morris dances that are associated with the May fertility rites. (see also the Robin Hood games for the May day). The branches of the May brought into the village, the symbolic coupling with the young women kidnapped under the skirts by the oss, the death and rebirth of the same oss are clear references to fertility that are part of the May Celtic celebrations. However little else can be affirmed with certainty and the verses of the “daytime” singing are rather obscure.
Equally numerous are the references to the winter rituals of Samain that began at the end of October and ended after about twelve days. During the Christmas period the disturbing mask of a horse (hodden or hooden horse), is led through the streets of the village by a “tamer” who held it by the bridle: the children tried to mount the horse and people throw sweets or coins into the mouth of the animal as propitiatory offers. see more

SPRING RITE OF DEATH-REBIRTH

In the singing the Padstow May Song (mostly they repeats the first verse) at some point the music stops the Oss collapses to the ground, the teaser caresses him with his characteristic bat and they sing a kind of dirge funeral
Oh where is Saint George? Oh where is he-O?
He’s out in his longboat, all on the salt sea-O.
Up flies the kite, down falls the lark-O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood, she had an old ewe,
And she died in her own park-O.
The oss dies then the “teaser” screams “Oss Oss” and the crowd answers “We Oss” thus the Oss comes back to life and gets up again to resume the dances..

Death-Resurrection of the Oss

Once between the two Oss was engaged a dance-fight, now the two parades march through the streets without ever meeting until late in the evening around the May Pole, before returning to their respective stables.

VIDEO
1930: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFW3xlSn3Ow
1932: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdDvOfUCfXk
1953: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA_e3LV6z0E
2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17911942

THE FAREWELL

The parade lasts all day from the morning around 11 am until evening and obviously several men alternate to play the Oss. At the end of the festival the Farewell to the Oss is sung with the phrase:
Farewell farewell my own true love
Farewell farewell my own true love

FAREWELL
I
How can I bear to leave you
One parting kiss I’ll give you
I’ll go what ‘ere befalls me
I’ll go where duty calls me
II
No more will I behold thee
Nor in my arms enfold thee
With spear and pennant glancing
I see the foe advancing
III
I think of thee with longing
Think though while tears are thronging
That with my last faint sighing
I whispered soft whilst dying

NIGHT SONG : Drink To The Old ‘Oss

The ritual of the oss begins, however, the night of May 1, at the stroke of midnight and until about two o’clock, with the Night Song, a clear song of begging, in which the youngsters are alerted to go into the woods to cut the branches of May: whoever sings asks in exchange for good phrases (prosperity, health, happiness) a little beer!

NIGHT SONG
I
Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is a-come unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.
II
I warn you young men everyone
For summer is a-come unto day,
To go to the green-wood and fetch your May home
In the merry morning of May.
III
Arise up Mr. —- and joy you betide
For summer is a-come unto day,
And bright is your bride that lies by your side,
In the merry morning of May.
IV
Arise up Mrs. —- and gold be your ring,
For summer is a-come unto day,
And give to us a cup of ale the merrier we shall sing,
In the merry morning of May.
V
Arise up Miss —- all in your gown of green
For summer is a-come unto day,
You are as fine a lady as wait upon the Queen,
In the merry morning of May.
VI
Now fare you well, and we bid you all good cheer,
For summer is a-come unto day,
We call once more unto your house before another year,
In the merry morning of May


Steeleye Span live (they have recorded the song several times)

DAY SONG
I
Unite and unite, and let us all unite
For summer is a-comin’ today.
And whither we are going we all will unite,
In the merry morning of May.
II
The young men of Padstow, they might if they would,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
They might have built a ship and gilded it with gold
In the merry morning of May.
III
The young women of Padstow, they might if they would,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
They might have built a garland with the white rose and the red
In the merry morning of May.
IV
Oh where are the young men that now do advance
For summer is a-comin’ today.
Some they are in England and some they are in France
In the merry morning of May.
V
Oh where is King George? Oh where is he-O?
He’s out in his longboat, all on the salt sea-O.
Up flies the kite, down falls the lark-O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood, she had an old ewe,
And she died in her own park-O.
VI
With the merry ring and with the joyful spring,
For summer is a-comin’ today.
How happy are the little birds and the merrier we shall sing
In the merry morning of May.

Lisa Knapp from Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017

PADSTOW MAY SONG
I
Unite and unite
For summer is a-come unto day,
Unite and unite,
In the merry morning of May.
II
With the marry ring
For summer is a-come unto day
Adieu the marry spring
In the merry morning of May
III
Arise up Mr. …
In the merry morning of May.
IV
Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is a-come unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.
V
Oh where is King George?
Oh where is he-O?
He’s out in his longboat,
all on the salt sea-O.
Up flies the kite,
down falls the lark-O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood,
she had an old ewe,
And she died in her own park-O.

TEXT MEANINGS

The May branches brought into the village, the symbolic coupling with the young women kidnapped under the skirts from the oss, the death and rebirth of the same oss are clear references to fertility that are part of the May Celtic celebrations. However little else can be affirmed with certainty and the verses of the “daytime” singing are rather obscure.
The young people who build a ship and cover it with gold, could symbolize the solar ship, and the theme of rebirth in a new afterlife it is the journey of purification of the soul of the deceased to the Hereafter.
The garland of red and white roses of young women (the colors of Beltane) symbolizes the union of the masculine principle with the feminine one and takes up again the theme of fertility propitiation. Even the last stanza is a clear reference to the lark, a messenger between the human and the divine, representation of youthful exaltation, a sacred and solar bird, symbol of good luck.
The interpretation of the verse already mentioned on the occasion of the funeral dirge in which the apparent death of the Oss is represented is very problematic!
Oh where is King George? Oh where is he-O?

oldossWHICH KING GEORGE?
The reference to the Hanover dynasty would start any historical dating to 1700, but on closer inspection the king is actually Saint George: it is precisely at this point when the Oss is about to die killed by the jester, that is Saint George who defeats the dragon, he is the solar god, who defeats the darkness, the Spring that defeats Winter.
But the most enigmatic of all is Aunt Ursula Birdhood with her old sheep! And here is the fantasy gallops and a local legend recalls an old woman who brought together the women of Padstow to drive away the Viking raiders (in another version become French) while the men were all out to sea to fish: disguised with the Obby Oss and guiding the women in a dancing procession to the beach Orsola has managed to get rid of the marauders convinced to see a monster!!
Some scholars see Birdwood as a mispronunciation of Birdwood and then link it to the figure of Robin Hood extensively connected to the celebration of May since the Middle Ages. Others recall the pagan myth concerning the goddess Freyja (or Sant’Orsola) who, with the name of Horsel or Ursel, welcomed the dead girls into the aftermath.

 second part

LINK
http://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/padstow.html
http://celtic.org/hobby.pdf
http://www.padstowlive.com/events/padstow-may-day http://grapewrath.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/chris-wood-andy-cutting-following-the-old-oss/

Staines Morris to the Maypole haste away

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In the TV series “The Tudors” an outdoor May Day has been set up, with the picturesque dancers of the Morris Dance, their rattles and handkerchiefs, the archery, the fight of the roosters, the dances with the ribbons around the May pole, performed by graceful maidens with flower crowns in their hair. The background music is titled “Stanes Morris”, in the video follow two reproductions, the first of  Les Witches group, the second a little slower of The Broadside Band.

The May poles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were very tall and decorated with green garlands, ribbons or two-color striped paintings: the tradition is rooted in England, Italy, Germany and France, a real focal point of the rousing activities at his feet , symbolic fulcrum of the group of dancers.

john-cousen-dancing-round-the-maypole-on-the-village-green-in-elizabethan-times
John Cousen: Ballando intorno al palo del Maggio in epoca elisabettiana

TO THE MAYPOLE HASTE AWAY (Staine Morris )

The melody is a dance reported in “The English Dancing Master” by John Playford, first edition of 1651, but already danced at the court of Henry VIII or in the Elizabethan era. In the video it is a Morris Dance while Playford describes it as a country dance (for instructions see)
Morris Dance version
It was William Chappell in his “Popular Music of the Old Time” of (1855-56) to combine the Tudor melody with the text “Maypole song” written in 1655 by Robert Cox for the comedy “Actaeon and Diana” . So Chappell writes “This tune is taken from the first edition of The Dancing Master. It is also in William Ballet’s Lute Book (time of Elizabeth); and was printed as late as about 1760, in a Collection of Country Dances, by Wright.
The Maypole Song, in Actæon and Diana, seems so exactly fitted to the air, that, having no guide as to the one intended, I have, on conjecture, printed it with this tune.

The text invites young people in following Love to dance and sing around the May Pole.
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick from ‘Prince Heathen.’ 1969 (simply perfect!)

Shirley Collins from Morris On, 1972, the folk rock experiment of a group of excellent trad musicians John Kirkpatrick, Richard Thompson, Barry Dransfield, Ashley Hutchings  and Dave Mattacks.

Lisa Knapp & David Tibet from Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017  (amazing version with a further step ahead of the 70s rock rework)

MAYPOLE SONG
I
Come, ye young men, come along
with your music, dance and song;
bring your lasses in your hands,
for ‘tis that which love commands.
Refrein:
Then to the Maypole haste away
for ‘tis now a holiday,
Then to the Maypole haste away
for ‘tis now a holiday
II
‘Tis the choice time of the year,
For the violets now appear:
Now the rose receives its birth,
And pretty primrose decks the earth.
III
Here each bachelor may choose
One that will not faith abuse
Nor repay, with coy disdain
Love that should be loved again
IV
And when you are reckoned now
For kisses you your sweetheart gave
Take them all again and more
It will never make them poor
V
When you thus have spent your time,
Till the day be past its prime,
To your beds repair at night,
And dream there of your day’s delight.

second part: JOAN TO THE MAYPOLE

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/intorno-al-palo-del-maggio.html 
Traditional Music (con spartito)
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/stainesmorris.html
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=60673

L’uomo verde

Read the post in English
man-natureL’Uomo Verde è una figura archetipa connessa con il ciclo della natura, è la forza verde immanente della Natura. Il mito narra di una Dea, la Madre, che genera (autogenera) il figlio, ma questo figlio non è immortale, e perchè il ciclo della vita si rinnovi, egli deve morire.
La sua morte e rinascita sono la rigenerazione della Primavera e con essa la rigenerazione della comunità che celebra il rito per propiziare la fertilità.
Il Green Man è lo spirito-guardiano dei boschi, forse un antichissimo dio della vegetazione e della fertilità trasversale a molte culture che prende il nome di Pan, Cernunno, Dioniso..

Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud

Viene raffigurato come un volto umano tra il fogliame verde o meglio la sua pelle è di fogliame: nell’illustrazione (Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud) sono artisticamente riprodotte le foglie di quercia, agrifoglio, edera e la foglia palmata dell’acero. Due rami si biforcano simmetricamente come corna, gli occhi sono rossastri come quelli delle fate di Avalon, tra i rami spunta un rametto di vischio con la sua bacca, pianta sacra dei Druidi.
Dalla bocca del Green Man germogliano rametti di sorbo con le caratteristiche bacche rosse. Il sorbo degli uccellatori, come viene comunemente chiamato, rappresenta nella tradizione druidica la rinascita della luce dopo l’inverno ed era quindi considerato l’albero per eccellenza del risveglio della Natura.

E tuttavia tutta questa venerazione del passato si è perduta nel Medioevo quando i vecchi dei sono morti e il Green Man è diventato una sorta di maschera decorativa da intendersi a volte come benigna ma più spesso come raffigurazione del maligno.

green-man
British Library, Add MS 18850, the ‘Bedford Hours’ , libro delle ore Parigi, XV sec

LA TRIPLICE NATURA DEL GREEN MAN

Notre Dame la Grande, Politiers : X sec

Il legame profondo tra uomo-natura è tutto nell’archetipo del green man, l’uomo metamorfizzato in albero, il legame indissolubile dell’uomo con la natura e le sue leggi. Un legame che infonde timore ma anche pace e tranquillità da qui l’ambivalenza del simbolo benigno o maligno a seconda del contesto: le immagini sorridono benevole o sono beffarde e feroci. Ma c’è una terza tipologia del Green Man: quella in cui i volti sembrano spaventati e sofferenti.

Se alcuni Green Man, invece che gioiosi, appaiono spaventosi, se ne trovano altri che, al contrario, sembrano spaventati. Non si tratta certamente di demoni, ma nemmeno li possiamo associare alle immagini che celebrano il rapporto dell’uomo con la Natura. Ci troviamo di fronte ad un’altra valenza che questa immagine può assumere, quella della sofferenza. Nel tardo Medioevo, soprattutto dopo la terrificante esperienza della pestilenza nota come la Morte Nera, raramente si trovano Green Men gioiosi e pacifici. Spesso rami e foglie spuntano fuori dagli occhi, in un’immagine che può risultare terrificante; a volte i denti sono sporgenti o molto pronunciati, quasi a voler cercare di mordere la pianta che spunta dalla bocca, per tagliarla e liberarsi così dalla sua stretta soffocante. Talvolta, infine, troviamo dei volti deformi ed anche questo è un segnale molto forte per la mentalità medievale: a quell’epoca, infatti, le deformità erano un fenomeno molto più frequente e conosciuto che non ai giorni nostri, dovute all’insicurezza sui luoghi di lavoro, alla malnutrizione ed alla scarsa cura verso la gente povera, ed alla medicina non troppo avanzata. Tali incidenti nella vita di un uomo venivano sempre associati a qualche punizione divina per i suoi peccati. Un volto sofferente che si trasforma in pianta, quindi, pone l’accento sul confine tra naturale e soprannaturale, e può suonare come un monito contro il peccato e le tentazioni. Un’altra tipica rappresentazione che si può trovare è quella di Green Man che mostrano la lingua, probabilmente ispirata alle classiche maschere della Gorgone, dove si supponeva che questo gesto avesse il senso di scacciare il male. È certo, invece, che la gente del Medioevo non guardasse la questa immagine nello stesso modo: oltre, infatti, ai passi della Bibbia che parlano della lingua come di un “organo sconveniente”, qualcosa che se mostrato poteva dare adito a scandalo, un volto con la lingua di fuori ricordava anche l’immagine dell’impiccato, quindi non certo piacevole. (tratto da qui)

JACK IN THE GREEN

Trisha Fountain Design

Nella tradizione popolare inglese The Green Man rinasce in una popolare maschera del Maggio di origini medievali (e presumibilmente ancora più remote). “Il verde Jack ” (the Green Man, in italiano l’Uomo Verde) è stata una popolare maschera del Maggio inglese, dal medioevo e fino in epoca vittoriana, caduta in disuso alla fine dell’Ottocento, è ritornata a mostrarsi  e a diffondersi a partire dagli anni 1970 nelle sfilate per le feste del Maggio.

William Hone nel suo “The every day book” del 1878 descrive così la maschera di Jack-o’-the-Green “Un tempo un simpatico personaggio vestito con nastri e fiori, rappresentato nei giochi di maggio del villaggio con il nome di The Jack-o’-the-Green, veniva a volte nei sobborghi di Londra e divertiva i residenti con danze rustiche.  Jack-o’-the-Green portava sempre un lungo bastone da passeggio guarnito di fiori e foglie; lo dimenava durantre la danza e poi camminava con il bastone tenuto in alto come il maggiordomo del Sindaco”

La maschera di Jack viene ulteriormente spettacolarizzata dalla corporazione degli spazzacamini, con un ragazzo dentro a una struttura di vimini a forma piramidale, ricoperta di edera e fogliame, sormontata da una specie di corona di fiori. Se ne andava per le strade con altri suoi compari per ballare e a raccogliere offerte in danaro. continua

JACK IN THE GREEN FESTIVAL A HASTINGS

Come anche dalle altre parti d’Inghilterra l’usanza si era persa agli inizi del Novecento, ma a Hastings  (East Sussex, Inghilterra) il gruppo locale di Morris dance, i “Mad Jacks” hanno avuto la brillante idea di riprendere la tradizione, organizzando principalmente una festa chiassosa e verdissima che dura un lungo finesettimana dal venerdì al lunedì! Canti e danze, gare di tamburi, session di musica folk, concerti, si susseguono per culminare l’ultimo giorno nella parata in costume con i Morris dancers, musicisti, spazzacamini, regine del Maggio, uomini selvatici, e uomini verdi,  per dare il salutare il ritorno di Jack , così una lunga processione si forma dietro di lui , dalle 10 del mattino fino a mezzogiorno dove si confluisce nell’area palco sulla West Hill dove tra rinfreschi, esibizioni dei partecipanti, fiera dell’artigianato si passa il pomeriggio per arrivare alle 4 quando Jack viene simbolicamente ucciso e spogliato delle sue foglie gettate alla folla come portafortuna.

Filmato di Ewan Golder & Daniel Penfold (musica dei The Child Wren) così scrivono nelle note del video “Dal 1983 sulla scia del revival folkloristico si organizza a Hastings l’annuale Jack In The Green Festival durante il weekend del primo maggio. Il “Jack”, coperto da capo a piedi da ghirlande di fiori e foglie, sfila per le strade prima di essere “sacrificato”. La sua morte segna la fine dell’inverno e la nascita dell’estate. Beltane è il nome gaelico di questo festival. Il filmato segue il viaggio di Jack per le strade di Hastings, alla sua inevitabile dipartita sulla collina.

Jethro Tull, Jack in the Green in “Songs from the wood“, 1977


I
Have you seen Jack(1)-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree –
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground –
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.
II
It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green –
no place to dance, no time for song.(2)
He wears the colours of the summer soldier –
carries the green flag all the winter long.
III
Jack, do you never sleep –
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so –
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
IV
The rowan(3), the oak and the holly tree(4)
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming(5).
Jack, put out the light.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Hai visto l’Uomo Verde(1)?
Con la sua lunga coda penzoloni
si siede tranquillamente sotto ogni albero-avvolto nel suo abito di velluto.
Beve dalla ghianda cava come una tazza, la rugiada che l’alba dolcemente dona e batte il bastone a terra-
per avvisare i bucaneve che è il momento di spuntare.
II
Non è divertente essere l’Uomo Verde -nessun posto per ballare, né tempo per cantare.(2)
soldato che indossa i colori dell’estate-
e porta la bandiera del verde oltre l’inverno.
III
Uomo, non dormi mai-
il verde ancora scorre nel profondo del tuo cuore?
O questi tempi mutati,
autostrade, linee elettriche,
ci separeranno?
Beh, io non la penso così-
ho visto dell’erba crescere attraverso il marciapiede oggi.
IV
Il sorbo(3), la quercia e l’albero di agrifoglio(4)
sono i doveri di cui farti carico.
Ogni filo d’erba sussurra” Uomo Verde”.
Oh, Uomo, aiutami attraverso la notte del mio inverno
che noi siamo bacche sull’albero di agrifoglio.
Oh, il tordo sta arrivando(5).
Uomo, spegni la luce.

NOTE
1) Jack è il diminutivo di due diversi nomi James (Giacomo) e John (Giovanni, Gianni), ma più che un  nome proprio qui sta a indicare l’Uomo Verde
2) il primo maggio era la festa del Verde Jack, con le maschere che andavano in giro a cantare e a ballare in una sorta di questua continua
3)  I druidi consideravano il sorbo l’albero dell’Aurora dell’anno ed era il simbolo del ritorno della luce per la sua rinascita primaverile. Ma quel che più era sacro erano i frutti che ritenevano fossero il cibo degli dei, in grado di ringiovanire,di allungare la vita, di saziare e di curare ferite gravi . L’albero, veniva spesso piantato nelle vicinanze di case e stalle a loro protezione, perché si riteneva che allontanasse i fulmini; se cresceva spontaneamente vicino alle abitazioni, era portatore di buona sorte, fortuna. (tratto da qui)
4) L’agrifoglio è un albero dalla simbologia maschile, legato all’amore fraterno e alla paternità, la controparte invernale della Quercia. Sir James George Frazer, nel suo libro “Il Ramo d’Oro” e Robert Graves, in “La Dea Bianca” e “I Miti Greci”, hanno descritto una cerimonia rituale che veniva, secondo loro, praticata nell’Antica Roma e in altre culture europee più antiche: la lotta rituale tra il Re Agrifoglio e il Re Quercia, lotta che garantiva l’alternarsi delle stagioni invernale e estiva. (continua)
5) I tordi ed i merli sono insensibili alla tossicità delle bacche dell’agrifoglio e ne consumano grandi quantità diventandone i disseminatori. L’agrifoglio maschio inizia a fiorire “da grande”, quando ha circa 20 anni e produce dei fiori piccoli e bianco-rosato profumati da maggio a giungo. Le bacche (sull’agrifoglio femmina) sono verdi e d’autunno diventano di un rosso lucido simile a corallo: restano sull’albero per tutto l’inverno costituendo una importante fonte di cibo per gli uccelli (attenzione perché le bacche sono invece tossiche per l’uomo)

seconda parte

FONTI
http://www.hastingsjitg.co.uk/
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/jack-in-the-green-chimney-sweeps-day/
http://www.angolohermes.com/Simboli/Green_Man/Green_Man.html
http://insidetheobsidianmirror.blogspot.it/2013/09/la-vera-natura-delluomo-verde.html

MAY DAY TO MUMMERS

Leggi in italiano

May traditions have been preserved in various parts of Europe until the twentieth century: in England it was drastically interrupted at the outbreak of the First World War, it was taken sporadically and kept alive by many Mummers and Morris Dancers, until today.
Generally, as was the ancient tradition, the youngsters of the village went to the woods to pick up the branches of May, (“going a-Maying“), and to bring the May to the country (“the bringing home the May“), mostly dressed up or with costumes extravagant: there were a couple of newlyweds and other figures even more picturesque with special names depending on the place and tradition.

In the nineteenth century the Mummers in Ireland and Brittany took part in the May festival both in the begging songs and to bring May and dance around the May Pole.

Loreena McKennitt from “The Book of Secrets” 1997

THE MUMMER’S DANCE
(composed by Loreena McKennitt)
I
When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair.
When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night.
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light.
CHORUS(1)
We’ve been rambling all the night
And sometime of this day,
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay(2).
II
Who will go down to the shady groves
And summon the shadows (3) there
And tie a ribbon on the sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year?
The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
When the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days.
III
And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows.
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone.
A garland gay we bring you here(1)
And at your door we stand.
It is a sprout well-budded out
The work of our Lord’s hand.

NOTES
1) chorus and last verse are part of the traditional May songs
2) May garland
3) the spirits of the forest and the voices of the ancestors

Also in Italy the chronicles of the time in Romagna (italian region)
“… In the springtime of the year on the night electrifying the youth, young people rush for to sing May under the windows of their favorites.At the same time, you can hear a lot of young girls singing songs by placing on their windows and their doors tree branches with flowers, that is they have planted the May “(Placucci – 1818).
“on the first day of May lovers take a branch of acacia in bloom and go early in the morning to plant it or near the door, or near a window of the beloved: sometimes they attach to this branch gifts such as brooches, handkerchiefs or other, then they sing ” (Bagli – 1885) –translated from here

In England throughout the nineteenth century, various may songs dating back to popular tradition are documented: the Mayers began their itinerant beggin in mid-April singing the May, and ended on the evening of April 30th. They was in small groups of five or six men who accompanied themselves in singing with the violin or flute.
These Mayers are the echo of the cheerful brigades that since the Middle Ages brought the May into the houses: a “Queen of the May” was elected among the most beautiful girls in the village and they danced and singed together around the May Pole.

Bringing Home the May, 1862, Henry Peach Robinson
Bringing Home the May, 1862, Henry Peach Robinson

The Mayers wandered both during the night and during the day and had songs for the night and songs for the day often on the same melody. The Night songs were sung on April 30 to leave the May branches at the doors of their neighbors with the request for food and drink. The Day songs were the songs of the 1st of May those more properly of begging in which they asked for coins in exchange for good luck songs.

CHILDREN MAYERS

rasing_maypoleAlso the children were wandering the streets, as for the Wassaling and the Christmas caroling even in spring the children went from house to house for begging, singing a series of verses (learned from the mother): they carried in procession the May garland with a little doll placed between a wreath of flowers and ribbons hanging from a pole (see) and receiving coins and some food-drinks in exchange for the auspicious verses.

Martin Carthy writes  in his album “Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man”, 2006: “There must be dozens of May Day songs from all over the country and the collector Fred Hamer had his own extensive collection, a selection of which was printed in the EFDSS journal* of 1961 along with an article on the subject. He says that a part of the ritual saw Mayers making their feelings known about particular individuals while they were doing their rounds. It was important for people to have the branch of May placed at their doors because a lack of it would certainly be seen as more than just a slight: but indeed it went further. A briar might be left to indicate a liar, and either elder or hemlock and stinging nettles for people of bad moral character; in all probability there were other examples as well.” (* Journal of The English Folk Dance & Song Society)

MAY DAY SONG  (May Day Carol) IN ENGLAND
inghilterraBedforshide
Cambridgshire, Cheshire,  Essex    
Lancashire, Yorkshire
Flag_of_Cornwall_svgObby Oss Festival
Padstow mayday 
Furry Dance di Helston

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/beltane-la-festa-celtica-del-maggio.html
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/ritual-chants#may