Song of the Week: The Lusty Month Of May

I am afraid I have missed quite a few weeks and a few songs, but today I will continue the series, on a lovely Sunday—the first Sunday in the lusty month of May! 🌳

The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.

— Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur

The First Spring Day

by Christina Rossetti

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.

I wonder if the springtide of this year
Will bring another Spring both lost and dear;
If heart and spirit will find out their Spring,
Or if the world alone will bud and sing:
Sing, hope, to me;
Sweet notes, my hope, soft notes for memory.

The sap will surely quicken soon or late,
The tardiest bird will twitter to a mate;
So Spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom,
Or in this world, or in the world to come:
Sing, voice of Spring,
Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.

Song of the Week: Over the Hedgerows

From the soundtrack of my all-time favourite series All Creatures Great and Small, this lovely instrumental by Johnny Pearson evokes the frosty, early spring like no other melody.

It had been used in numerous episodes, most famously in the lovely lambing scenes in Attendant Problems.

What to read in Spring

Reading by the Window by Charles James Lewis

Of course, it is not quite spring yet, but the smell in the air and the hustle and bustle of the birds and bees, the blooming snowdrops and crocuses, assure us that the season of freshness and renewal is near. Spring is a lovely time for strolling about the countryside and working in the garden, but it’s also a sweet and peaceful time to read a good book. 💐

🌸 The Rosemary Tree by Elizabeth Goudge is a book of renewal and second chances, of crisp clean air, and the cold sweet spring.

🌸 Linnets & Valerians, also by Elizabeth Goudge, is as sweet as honey and strawberry jam, as colourful as a bluebell wood in morning sunshine.

🌸 All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot evokes the wonderful, sweet, yet harsh reality of the beginning of the year, of the freshness of the lambs, and the icy winds.

🌸 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is a book of many seasons, but especially of springtime. Just messing about in boats,  there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

🌸 Thrush Green by Miss Read is just one lovely day—and May Day, indeed!—in a sweet English village, with blossoming trees and cottages with thatched roofs.

🌸 Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (or was it ther-Pooh?) is ever-delightful. Who would not want to spend a lovely spring day in the Hundred Acre Wood?

🌸 April Lady by Georgette Heyer does not only have a springlike name, it’s sweet and funny and romantic, and a quick and gentle read.

🌸 The Mystery of the Clockword Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine is a sweet and charming mystery for young girls as much as everyone else, set in Edwardian London.

🌸 The Nature of Spring by Jim Crumley is not a novel, but a beautiful and real account of the ways and workings of nature in the beginning of the year.

🌸 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis is a book of Christmas and winter, but even more so of Easter and spring. And of course, it is simply wonderful.

Literary Soundtrack: Linnets & Valerians

One of the most enchanting little books one could possibly imagine!

Linnets & Valerians—also published as The Runaways—by Elizabeth Goudge is a perfect read for early summer; a children’s book for all ages, made of beautiful prose, everyday magic, and strawberry jam. I couldn’t recommend it more, and I couldn’t resist making a little playlist for it. It’s such a sweet, and such a beautiful novel, full of forests and flowers and animals and birds and bees and music and adventure. 🌿

The Lark Ascending

I Believe in Springtime

English Folk Song Suite

The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun

Narnian Lullaby

Jupiter Hymn

Morning has Broken

All Things Bright and Beautiful

The Trees They Grow So High

The Ash Grove

The entire Playlist on YouTube

Freaks of Fashion

a springlike poem by Christina Rossetti.

Such a hubbub in the nests,
Such a bustle and squeak!
Nestlings, guiltless of a feather,
Learning just to speak,
Ask—“And how about the fashions?”
From a cavernous beak.

Perched on bushes, perched on hedges,
Perched on firm hahas,
Perched on anything that holds them,
Gay papas and grave mammas
Teach the knowledge-thirsty nestlings:
Hear the gay papas.

Robin says: “A scarlet waistcoat
Will be all the wear,
Snug, and also cheerful-looking
For the frostiest air,
Comfortable for the chest too
When one comes to plume and pair.”

“Neat gray hoods will be in vogue,”
Quoth a Jackdaw: “Glossy gray,
Setting close, yet setting easy,
Nothing fly-away;
Suited to our misty mornings,
A la negligée.”

Flushing salmon, flushing sulphur,
Haughty Cockatoos
Answer—“Hoods may do for mornings,
But for evenings choose
High head-dresses, curved like crescents,
Such as well-bred persons use.”

“Top-knots, yes; yet more essential
Still, a train or tail,”
Screamed the Peacock: “Gemmed and lustrous
Not too stiff, and not too frail;
Those are best which rearrange as
Fans, and spread or trail.”

Spoke the Swan, entrenched behind
An inimitable neck:
“After all, there’s nothing sweeter
For the lawn or lake
Than simple white, if fine and flaky
And absolutely free from speck.”

“Yellow,” hinted a Canary,
“Warmer, not less distingué.”
“Peach color,” put in a Lory,
“Cannot look outré.”
“All the colors are in fashion,
And are right,” the Parrots say.

“Very well. But do contrast
Tints harmonious,”
Piped a Blackbird, justly proud
Of bill auriferous;
“Half the world may learn a lesson
As to that from us.”

Then a Stork took up the word:
“Aim at height and chic:
Not high heels, they’re common; somehow,
Stilted legs, not thick,
Nor yet thin:” he just glanced downward
And snapped to his beak.

Here a rustling and a whirring,
As of fans outspread,
Hinted that mammas felt anxious
Lest the next thing said
Might prove less than quite judicious,
Or even underbred.

So a mother Auk resumed
The broken thread of speech:
“Let colors sort themselves, my dears,
Yellow, or red, or peach;
The main points, as it seems to me,
We mothers have to teach,

“Are form and texture, elegance,
An air reserved, sublime;
The mode of wearing what we wear
With due regard to month and clime.
But now, let’s all compose ourselves,
It’s almost breakfast-time.”

A hubbub, a squeak, a bustle!
Who cares to chatter or sing
With delightful breakfast coming?
Yet they whisper under the wing:
“So we may wear whatever we like,
Anything, everything!”