Fair maids at the Maypole, lovely young lassies
Delightfully dancing around and around.
Reaching for ribbons, festooned with flowers,
Playfully prancing they each gaily gavotte
In dance with their dandies who traipse the traverse.
Tight fisted to fabric, and pinned to the pole,
They move to the motion, then deftly divert,
She shuffling eastward, He heading toward west,
To meet for a moment in a winding whorl of worlds
To the curve of the circle and the pull of the pole.
Divergent deft dancing, mixed with May Day mirth,
This symbolic swirling set to some seasonal sway.
They move and meander, increasing intensity
Until, under unfolding patterns that prevail,
They suddenly stop to partners presented
Become casual couples as custom compels,
To dance for the day where the pole plans play,
Rendering real recent, or renewing, romances,
The Beltane begins in a beautiful ballet.
They now never part, but start stepping smartly,
While whirling and weaving, they’re waltzing away,
Twining and twirling, twisting and turning,
’til the ribbon is wrapped as they pivot the pole,
Careening to center, where bodies blend in a bunch.
Some say it’s evil to prance, play, and party
While wisdom gains pardon of Princes and Priests.
Is it pure pagan practice, or simple seasonal feast?
A phallic portrayal, or a tribute to a tree?
Are they casually celebrating our original sin?
From forbidden fruit that once grew in the garden
On the nub of a gnarled Knowledge Tree twig?
The verdict is vacant, as very many errors exist.
Its hidden history is hewn in mystical memory mists.
Parliaments and Protestants condemn this cavorting
While many more villages still vindicate its vision
Of community celebration, casually combining couples.
Today in the month of May, the tradition tends to stay.
In rural regions of Europe the ritual remains
Where the Fairy fantasies grew from the forests,
And the little people legends littered the lands.
The Germans still gather around the painted pole.
They yearn to wander yonder, whether young or old.
They delight in the dance from noon until night,
Celebrating their customs at traditional times.
So, let’s travel to towns that plan participation.
We’ll wander and watch while wafting fine wine,
Wherever we may find fair maids at the Maypole.
Well, it’s May. So I thought it would be a fine time to write about the Maypole. It carries quite an intriguing history.
There are many theories about its origins and purpose. It has been an accepted practice almost as many times as it’s been comdemned. Most hold it as a pagan ritual associated with Belthane, festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight which may go back as far as the Greek worship of Baccus. Similarily, some believe it is a phallic symbol celebrated for male prowess, with origins that go back at least 28,000 years when phallic artifacts were found and dated from the Hohle Fels cave in Germany. More common is the belief that it represents a tree. Many early German cultures worshiped sacred trees. It may even been superceded by today’s Christmas tree. Then finally, there is a belief of a Satanic celebration involving the celebration of Original sin whereby Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, and his minions celebrate that event.
Maypoles have existed for centuries in Germany Scandanavia, and the British Isles. The Catholic church first tried to replace it by introducing the May Day procession of the Virgin Mary, successfully in Spanish cultures, and then subverted it by adopting the pole as an acceptable means for couples to be introduced in a benign community event. Protestants widely condemned the practise as evil.
The Maypole has been condemned by the British Parliament under King Edward VI, but was reinstated by Mary I upon his death. So, over the centuries it has been practiced and condemned many times off and on by many governments. The ritual still exists today, particularily in many parts of Germany.
Dandies- here I mean handsome boys dressed in their best.
Traipse the traverse – go the other way.
Gavotte – to dance like a minuet
Belthane – a pagan fertility festival.
This poem is an Alliterative Verse.
I was introduced to it by PantyGynt, a fellow FanStorian, in his Poem, Weaker Than Water.
The Alliterative Verse is form of the Anglo Saxons (the oldest written poetic form in the English language). It is medieval device of linking verses with a single letter, word, phrase or even syllable hook. It similarly links final and opening lines of the poem. The features are as follows.
No meter, it was a later development in English poetry.
Just 4 stressed syllables per line, 2 in each half line, the bare minimum is two alliterations per line, one from each half, three is to be aimed at and if you can get all four – great! Alliteration may appear on the unstressed syllables but doesn’t count.
Interestingly the alliterative letter may come at the end of an unstressed syllable, as if it were the beginning of the next stressed syllable.
No rhyme either, that didn’t appear as a regular feature until Chaucer, in the 14th century.
Finally the breakdown of the lines is not a requirement. There can be any number of lines in a stanza. The length can vary.
This picutre was taken courtesy of Yahoo Images.