Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It's May Day!!

It's May Day!!

Every May 1, I remember the year that I was six years old, and was in Cambridge, England with my father. He woke me very early that May morning, and we hurried through the mist, from my grandmother's enormous old house, down behind the university colleges, to the banks of the Cam.

There stood a large group of people, at the centre of which were the strangest looking group of men I had ever seen. They were dressed all in white, their shirts adorned with brightly coloured ribbons, and strands of jingle-bells tied round their legs. The ancient, bearded "ring-leader" of the group shouted a greeting, and a tiny squeeze-box began to play...

The Cambridge Morris Men sprung to life. It was one of the most strangely memorable points of my childhood-- standing there with my Dad, shivering in the cool morning dampness as the sun rose, watching the dancers leap and spin to the music. During some dances, they waved huge white handkerchiefs. In others, they weilded large wooden staffs, which they clapped together. All the while, everyone was whooping and cheering and singing, just for the sheer pleasure of being alive in Springtime.

"Awake, awake, my pretty prithy maid,
come out your drowsy dream,
And step into your dairy hold,
and fetch me a bowl of cream.
If not a bowl of cream, my dear,
a cup of meade to cheer,
For the Lord knows we shall meet again,
to go Maying another year.
A branch of May I brought you here,
while at your keep I stand,
'Tis but a sprout all budded out,
by the power of Our Lord's hand.
My song is done and I must be gone,
no longer may I stay,
God bless you all, the great and small,
and send you a joyous May."

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