May Day, Padstow

May Day, Padstow

I visited Padstow in Cornwall, a few years ago now, to see the famous dancing.
It was odd. It was also very British, but not in the Changing of the Guard or the Chelsea Flower Show sense. It was earthy, deeply historical, primitive, and wonderful.

The drum beat is hypnotic and the dancing doesn’t stop.

There are two “rival” horses nowadays, the old ‘Oss and the “Blue Ribbon” ‘Oss, but I think they all get along well.

I’m dealing with traditions of this nature as I write my new book St. John’s Ambulatory. How quickly we (as a community) can forget the meanings of what we do, the reasons behind the celebrations, and even the causes for which we fought.

 

Arise up Mr. ….. with your sword by your side,
For summer is acome unto day,
Your steed is in the stable awaiting for to ride,
In the merry morning of May.
Arise up Miss ….. and strew all your flowers,
For summer is acome unto day,
It is but a while ago since we have strewn ours,
In the merry morning of May.
O! where is St. George,
O!, where is he O,
He is out in his long boat on the salt sea O.
Up flies the kite and down tails the lark O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood she had an old ewe
And she died in her own Park O.
The young men of Padstow they might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have built a ship and gilded her with gold,
In the merry morning of May.
The young women of Padstow might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have made a garland with the white rose and the red,
In the merry morning of May.
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