Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Magic of May

May and June are my favourite months. They are the months of hope and promise. All is bright, all is beautiful. The green of fresh growth is never greener, the yellow field flowers never more gaudy, and everywhere cherry trees wave their pink powder puff blossoms as proud cheerleaders against the sharp blue skies. The fields and hillsides are specked with contented cream sheep and tail-swinging lamb, and the sweet air vibrates with bleating and birdsong. It is brief, and it is magical. All too soon the volume and contrast knobs are turned down and this luscious, promiscuous landscape settles into the more demure shades of an ever maturing season.

Below is a poem written by the uncle of my maternal grandmother, a ‘man of the church’ who left Cornwall for a new life in North America at the beginning of the last century. He went on to do great things there, ending up, if I remember rightly, as a Dean in Boston. Or possibly Detroit. Unfortunately my wonderful grandmother is long gone and my mother and father are currently enjoying life on the ocean wave somewhere in the Mediterranean, so I cannot check. His name was Frederick Edwards and he published a volume of poems called The Natural Year. This is taken from the May – June volume. He is clearly closer to the sea than I and a priest with love and passion flowing through his veins.

May 16th

Out of my window under the eaves
I can look down on the birth of the leaves,
Slenderly folded packets of things,
Timidly opening pairs of wings,
Lengthening, lengthening,
Stengthening, strengthening,
One by one,
Feeling the air, the rain, and the sun.

Lilac, syringa, and elderberry,
Delicate bronzing in foam on the cherry;
Tassels on poplars and birches are dangling,
Twigs in a tumult with green buds entangling,
Thickening, thickening,
Quickening, quickening,
One by one,
Drinking the air, the rain, and the sun.

Crouching below are the barnacled rocks,
Over them herring-gulls wheeling in flocks,
Lacing the purple and blue of the river,
Tossing like showers of blossoms they quiver,
Rising and falling,
Laughing and calling,
One by one,
Free of the air, the rain, and the sun.

Over the trees and the gulls is a hill,
Clothed with the forest, ancient and still;
Mists in its cavernous hollows are smoking,
On its sea-battlements ravens are croaking,
Guardedly nesting,
Solemnly questing,
One by one,
Into the air, the rain, and the sun.

Rounding the hill is the sweep of the bay,
Placidly meeting the sky far away;
Garlands of islands are strewn on the deep,
Over them windflowers of clouds are asleep;
Spring has caressed them,
Love has possessed them,
One by one,
Out in the air, the rain, and the sun.

This was the view from my window today:

And finally, on a local note, I learned today that in the first third of the nineteenth century, Derbyshire miners had their own May Day celebration – on ‘old’ May Day. In 1829, county historian, Stephen Glover wrote:

‘On the 13th May the miners dress their coves or cowes (the place in which they deposit the ore) with oak branches, garlands and other rural decorations. This is called the ‘miners’ holiday’. A dinner of beef, pudding and ale is provided on the occasion, and, when the weather is favourable, the festivities are conducted in the open air. The Bar-masters preside and music and old songs conclude the proceedings…’

Indeed, I dressed my own house today with the first small vase of flowers picked from a garden newly in bloom. Perhaps this long, long winter has now finally ended…


GoneBackSouth said...

Hi again. Oh wow what an awesome view. It is very green and beautiful up there. I used to run Little Tigers Magazine - do you know it?

Dusty Spider said...

What a beautiful post. The poem is magical. You've made my day. Thankyou. Flick xx

ChrisH said...

Hello! Lovely to catch up with you - I loved the poem, the 'thickening and quickening'. I agree with you about this time of year - the hedgerows around here are so pretty at the moment, cow parsley, violets, campion, and, as you say, gone so quickly. Good luck with the day skippering - from an incompetent crew!

Frankofile said...

Now you be careful - you'll have me wanting to come back to Derbyshire :-P

I love the idea of a posy photo of the day's flowers - mind if I steal that?

Elizabethd said...

That is a lovely poem. It just says...Cornwall.
What a pretty vase of flowers. It's so good when you can bring your own garden indoors, rather than buying flowers.

Pipany said...

Well, I thought it had ended but woke to a darkness more apt for December and pouring rain! Sooo frustrating. Your pictures are lovely, particularly of the little posy which are my favourite things to have around the house xx

Faith said...

Incredible poem, I loved it.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Ah hah - so you come from a creative family . .

Gorgeous view . . did Mousie mow that lawn for you.

I love Spring too - so many different colours.

Love the idea of the Miner's holiday and hulking miner's decorating with Spring boughs.


Oh WW, you made me laugh - I hadn't thought of it like that! (The hulking great miners, I mean, being all girlie about Spring!!)

tales from an O.C. cottage said...

Oh...isn't Pemebrly in Derbyshire?
Sorry, I'm a bit obsessed with Jane Austen. You view is amazing!

M ^..^

MarmiteToasty said...

What a lovely garden you have, and the family poem is gorgeous, what a story.....


elizabethm said...

Beautiful pictures and lovely poem. I also loved your flowers. I have just done a vase of hellebore argutifolius and peonies with some feathery fennel. I am a rubbish flower arranger (in fact my husband generally redoes them in a quiet way) but it looks fab.

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