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Sumer is icumen in!

Whee! May Day is fast approaching, and today was the first truly hot day of the summer: here's to many more like it.

At this time of year, I always find myself going round singing 'Sumer Is Icumen In', and so I post here the splendid Old English lyrics in celebration of my approaching favourite season:

Sumer is icumen in:
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springst the wde nu.

Sing cuccu!

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Llouth after calve cu,
Bulluc sterteh, bucke verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu cuccu,
Ne swik thu naver nu!

If you don't know the tune, you might like to check out this page, which offers midi files of the different elements in the round, plus a translation of the lyrics into modern English.

Ardent students of linguistics may like to note that there is a debate over the precise meaning of the phrase 'bucke verteth'. On the basis of the preceding lines about ewes bleating after lambs and cows cooing after their calves, it's likely that the bullocks and the bucks would be doing something similar to one another: hence the line often gets translated as 'The bullock leaps, the deer capers', or something along those lines. But another distinct possibility is that 'verteth' actually means 'farts'.

I look forward to seeing as many Oxfordy types as possible at the forthcoming May Day celebrations next Saturday morning. I shall definitely be there for the choir-boys at dawn, but may have to renege on my earlier intention to stay up all the Friday night, on the grounds that I have a job interview in Nottingham during the day on Friday, and am likely to be mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. I'll see though - maybe I will be so buoyed up by the experience that pulling an all-nighter is no bother? ;-)

In any case, I'm still fully determined to organise delicious picnicky joy for the morning of the 1st (strawberries, sparkly booze, a thermos full of coffee and pain au chocolat are just some of the things I have in mind: further suggestions welcome). Anyone who wants to play picnics, wants to stay up all night and has a good venue in mind for this, or just generally wants to come along to the tower, do let me know so we can all meet up. Anyone who owns a thermos flask and wants to volunteer to fill it with coffee will also be much appreciated.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC)
I love that song! I remember doing that at school when I was about 10. But a more modern version ( though not completely). Wasn't it inscribed on the remaining walls of Reading Abbey or soemthing? Random primary school local history does have a tendency to get mixed up.

You have your may day celebrations actually on Mat Day? That's kinda cool! Ours are on Monday. my mum and sister always find ponies there, so I'm going this time! Plus I down for a wedding reception anyway :-)

Apr. 23rd, 2004 03:47 pm (UTC)
You have your may day celebrations actually on May Day?

Of course! Whatever day of the week it falls on, the good people of Oxford greet the rising sun with madrigals and champagne. :-)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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