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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - May Day Musings (with Edmund Spenser)

Can it be that our wonderful, whirlwind Poetry Month unfurled itself right into May? I still have some catching up to do with all of the inspiring April posts in Kidlitosphere!

Today at our school (the pre-K-12 school which has helped raise both of my children – Morgan, now an elementary education major halfway through college, and Seth, a rising high school senior), a long tradition will be played out again. Fifth graders will wrap two colorful Maypoles in a lovely coordinated dance, and I imagine their parents will be snapping pictures galore. It’s part of a big May Day celebration, but for these fifth graders, it’s a rite of passage from elementary school to middle school. Seems like I just watched both of mine participate, and now they’re pretty much grown!

I thought we’d celebrate this (pagan!) tradition here, too – a tradition which drove the poor Puritan clergy, and others before them, crazy.

From the The Shepheardes Calender - Maye
by Edmund Spenser (published in 1579)

Yougthes folke now flocken in everywhere,

To gather may buskets and smelling brere:

And home they hasten the postes to dight

And all the Kirke pillours eare day light,

With hawthorn buds and swete eglantine,

And girlonds of roses, and sopps in wine.


[OK, 'far as I can tell: “brere” means briar; “dight” means adorn/dress; “sopps in wine” refers to the an old name for “clove pink,” or, carnation!]

If you’re up for struggling through the language for the whole month, which is an argument between “the persons of two shepheards Piers & Palinodie, be represented two formes of pastoures or Ministers, or the protestant and the Catholique…” here’s a link.

For more great poetry, and more accessible I’m sure, please go gather ye some rosebuds for your garland at Wild Rose Reader, where lovely Elaine is rounding up Poetry Friday.
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