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friday feast: a pocketful of poesies

"The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May." ~ Edwin Way Teale

photo by csoules

"It's here, it's here, that shocking time of year -- when tons of little wicked thoughts merrily appear!"

Yes, it's May, it's May, the lusty month of May, as Vanessa Redgrave sang so joyfully in "Camelot." So, are you ready to be wild and gay, go blissfully astray?

       photo by boopsie.daisy

Well, I am. Just a few moments ago, I bathed my face in the dew of this fine May morning to retain my youthful beauty. This is something all fair maidens do. Tra-la! Wish you could see me, cuz I'm all shiny and stunning.

I took my cue from Mother Goose herself (May 1st is Mother Goose Day, don't you know):

The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes the dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.

Okay, we don't have any hawthorn trees -- but the ones we do have are bursting forth like nobody's business. I always forget how "sudden" spring is. Tiny buds drink in the raindrops, soak up the sun and explode into millions of pale green leaves. Our little forest is back!

by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

I don't want to alarm you, but if you see a streak of white flashing across your computer screen, it's just me -- frolicking and gamboling through the meadow clad in a diaphanous gown, a crown of ferns and roses in my hair . . . stopping now and again to toss a pretty poesy into your May basket:

by Lord Edward Thurlow

May, queen of blossoms,
And fulfilling flowers,
With what pretty music
Shall we charm the hours?
Wilt thou have pipe and reed,
Blown in the open mead?
Or to the lute give heed
In the green bowers.

photo by straightfinder

"Tis like the birthday of the world,
When green was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume:
There's crimson buds, and white and blue,
The very rainbow showers
Have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers."
~ Thomas Hood

photo by mix's

On the first of May, the Earth has moved along its orbit to where the Northern Hemisphere is receiving an ever increasing flow of energy. The Sun has climbed higher in our sky, and everything is responding to its light.

photo by katarina 2353

"The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings." 
~ Joyce Kilmer, Spring

Today, I'm thinking about Hawai'i, where it's Lei Day. I'm also thinking of England, which shares a mutual admiration for celebrations, royalty and flowers. Two Hawaiian queens attended Queen Victoria's Coronation Jubilee, and Olympic swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, once danced with the Queen Mother.

photo by colleeninhawaii

photo by Kirk Siang

But most important, Lei Day grew out of the British tradition of May flowers and maypole dancing, which originated about 700 years ago. The crowning of a May Queen, and having a procession of young maidens (princesses) wearing flower garlands, continues in both England and Hawai'i today. But instead of weaving long, colorful ribbons around a maypole, the first dancers in Hawai'i wove long garlands of flowers.

"The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup;
I'll drink to the garlands around it;
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown'd it."

~ Robert Herrick, The Maypole, 1660

I picked these just for you:

photo by lookin glass

"When April steps aside for May,
Like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten;
Fresh violets open every day:
To some new bird each hour we listen."
~ Lucy Larcom

by Sara Teasdale

photo by John & Fish

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.
Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;
For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?

I wish you a glorious month! May you bloom with new adventures, spend many pleasant hours drinking in the beauty around you, and read and write new poems or stories that fill your heart to the brim.

photo by moonjazz

photo by dgans

"Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun." ~ Kahlil Gibran

But mind where you go . . .

"Prithee, smite the poet in the eye when he would sing to you praises of the month of May. It is a month presided over by the spirits of mischief and madness. Pixies and flibbertigibbets haunt the budding woods. Puck and his train of midgets are busy in town and country." ~ O'Henry, The Month of May

photo by aperture_lag


Madness, mischief, and merrymaking.
Special guests.
Children's Book Week (May 10-17).
Asian Pacific American Heritageness.
Dylan's birthday (May 24).
Flowers, flowers, flowers.
There could very well be tickling.
And poetry, of course.
Tea and sweet treats to go with it.
Cake, in particular, will probably make an encore appearance.

So join us, and we'll go a'maying!

Maya Ganesan at Allegro is doing the Roundup today. Skip on over!

*Did you miss any of the Poetry and Cake Month posts in April? 
Check here.

**And don't forget to comment on my
interview with Melissa Sweet for a chance to win a signed copy of A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams!! Deadline is next Friday, May 8th.

photo by sethladd

"Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower." ~ Carl Sandburg


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
Hi, I am visiting from Poetry Friday. What a wonderful ode to May! I love the poems and quotes and vivid pictures, especially the one of the bird near the pond.
May. 1st, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Welcome, Barbara! So glad you stopped by to help celebrate May. The robin in the photo is very unusual. Not sure where the photo was taken.
(Deleted comment)
May. 1st, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
May Day is a pretty big deal in Hawai'i. There's a big parade, lei judging contests, and most schools have special programs, where each grade does its own dance.
May. 1st, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
I feel like I've been baptized in color! What gorgeous photos and poetry!

I think my favorite is the Philip Larkin poem. Thanks for introducing me.

May. 1st, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
Happy May, fellow flower child :)!
May. 1st, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
This made me so happy! I flippin' love May, and this is the best tribute to its wonderfulness.

Looking forward to what May brings here at your blog.

May. 1st, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
It promises to be a busy month. I'll make sure adequate provisions are on hand :).
May. 1st, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
I feel all spring-y now. :D

Happy May Day/Lei Day!

May. 1st, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the beautiful lei, Debbie!! It's perfect! I always think of you, now, when I see plumeria. :)
May. 1st, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)

I just sent a friend a letter on plumeria-printed notecards - I knew she would likely associate it with me, too.
May. 1st, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
It's May!
Elaine M.

Great post of poetry and pictures. I like the Larkin poem.

Let's have a surfeit of poems all year round--and not just in April!
May. 1st, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Re: It's May!
Hear, hear. Poetry every day!
May. 1st, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
I'm going to add this entry to my LJ memories, for sure. It's a hillside of beautiful blooms for the soul. Gorgeous, in so many ways.

Happy May Day, Jama!!

May. 1st, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a beautiful basket of yellow blooms!! LOVE it. Thanks so much, Melodye, and Happy May to you!
May. 1st, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
The celebration of May 1 as Lei Day was invented in 1927 by island artist and writer Donald Benson Blanding and Grace Tower Warren. Don Blanding is also credited with the invention of the custom of tossing your lei overboard when you sailed away from Honolulu. If the lei came back to shore (and most did) it supposedly meant you would return.

"May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Garlands of flowers everywhere
All of the colors in the rainbow
Maidens with blossoms in their hair

Flowers that mean we should be happy
Throwing aside a load of care
Oh, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
May Day is happy days out there"

May. 1st, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
Happy Lei Day to you!! Thanks for the lyrics. I was hoping to find a good YouTube version of someone singing it to no avail.
May. 1st, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
You know me, I'm all about the garden, but that last picture of the 5 girls is priceless!

Loved the pocketful of poems....thank you.
May. 1st, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I love those little ones, too, and can almost smell the plumeria. :)
May. 1st, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, Jama, your vibrant pictures and cheerfulness always makes me smile! I love your description of your forest bursting into green. That is exactly how I felt this week peering out of my window into ours.
Love the trees poem and I wish I could run through those fields of flowers!
May. 1st, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how the leaves appeared on the trees overnight! We had some rain and several warm days in a row, and then a blast of green! Now that the trees are full, we have our privacy back again :).
May. 1st, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
Tanita Says :)
What an overwhelmingly beautiful post full of posies. I love that Larkin poem, and the idea of greenness being like a kind of grief... it's everywhere...
May. 1st, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Tanita Says :)
Yes, there was that interesting tension between the living and the dying, the past and the present. That whole cyclical thing -- it's within our power, though, to begin "afresh." Hope!
May. 1st, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a feast! Now that I've read your wonderful tribute to the season, I think I need to go find myself a Maypole to dance around. Or failing that, at least go celebrate the lilacs in bloom outside my window. :)
May. 2nd, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
Welcome, and thanks for friending me. So happy to meet you -- looking forward to reading your journal :)!

And Happy May!! Your lilacs sound lovely.
Aug. 27th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
you made May a beautiful month&the colors refuse to fade from memory

Aug. 27th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your lovely words and for reading this post!!
May. 2nd, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
I feel like doing hand springs!
May. 4th, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)
May. 3rd, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Here I am, one of the flibbertigibbets!! Thanks for all these lovely photos and poems. The frolicking has begun!!
May. 4th, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
Oh, nice to have an expert mischief maker aboard. Bring on the antics! :)
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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