Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The hounds of spring arrived some time ago

I always like to write about spring, and, inspired by some glorious weather, I spent some time last week assembling a little spring anthology. Then I realised that it was too late for publication; historically, spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March. There is a school of thought which says it should be 1st March; ridiculous antipodeans have it on that date but call it the first day of autumn.

So the Other Men's Flowers Festival of Spring will have to wait until next year. Meanwhile, here is a reminder of two well-known celebrations of the season.

One version of the anonymous Spring In The Bronx goes:
Spring has sprung, the grass is ris.
I wonder where the boidies is?
Some say the boid is on the wing,
But that's absoid; the wing is on the boid.

Seven hundred and fifty years earlier W. de Wycombe (or, more likely, someone else) composed a piece of six-part polyphonic music. In the Wessex dialect of Middle English, the words are:
Sumer is ycomen in,
Loude sing cuckou!
Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
And springth the wode now.
Sing cuckou!

Ewe bleteth after lamb,
Loweth after calve cow,
Bulloc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Merye sing cuckou!
Cuckou, cuckou,
Wel singest thou cuckou:
Ne swik thou never now!

This is fairly comprehensible to us today except for the activities of the bulloc and the bucke: "sterteth", "verteth"—what are they up to? (It's a bit like Paul Jennings' fictitious proverb based on place names: Woman erith, Man morpeth.)

Apparently the line means the bullock stirs, the stag farts; the current critical consensus is that the stag is making "a gesture of virility indicating the stag's potential for creating new life, echoing the rebirth of Nature from the barren period of winter".

Oh, right.

1 comment:

Gerry said...

G'day Tony...