Saturday, May 26, 2012

May in the Greenwood

May in the Greenwood

In summer, when the thickets shine
      And leaves are large and long,
'Tis merry in the forest fair
      To hear the sweet birdsong,

To see the deer draw to the dale      
      And from their high hills flee,
To seek for shadow in the leaves,
      Under the greenwood tree.

It did befall on Whitsuntide
      One early May morning,
The sun rose up and fair did shine,
      And sweet the birds did sing.

"A merry morn," said Little John.
      "By Him who died on tree,
A happier man than I lives not
      In Christianity.

"Pluck up thy heart, my master dear,"
      To Robin he did say:
"Believe it is the best of times,
      This merry morn of May."

from Robin Hood and the Monk, circa 1450
[spelling and language modernized by George J. Dance]

May in the Green-Wood

In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
      And leves be large and long,
Hit is full merry in feyre foreste
      To here the foulys song.

To se the dere draw to the dale 
      And leve the hilles hee,
And shadow him in the leves grene
      Under the green-wode tree.

Hit befell on Whitsontide
      Early in a May mornyng,
The Sonne up faire can shyne,
      And the briddis mery can syng.

'This is a mery mornyng,' said Litulle Johne,
      'Be Hym that dyed on tre;
A more mery man than I am one
      Lyves not in Christiantè.

'Pluk up thi hert, my dere mayster,'
      Litulle Johne can say,
'And thynk hit is a fulle fayre tyme
      In a mornynge of May.'

Anonymous, 15th century
from the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1919.

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

George J. Dance biography

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