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Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying

DigiTrad:
CORNISH MAY CAROL
DRAWING NEARER TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
MAY DAY CAROL
MAY DAY CAROL (2)
MAY MORNING CAROL
MAY MORNING DEW
QUEEN OF THE MAY


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GUEST,Sheila 27 Mar 03 - 10:25 AM
MMario 27 Mar 03 - 10:32 AM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Mar 03 - 10:38 AM
IanC 27 Mar 03 - 10:38 AM
Dave Bryant 27 Mar 03 - 11:00 AM
MMario 27 Mar 03 - 11:04 AM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Mar 03 - 11:05 AM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Mar 03 - 11:06 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 03 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,JohnB 27 Mar 03 - 12:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Mar 03 - 12:46 PM
IanC 27 Mar 03 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Sheila 27 Mar 03 - 02:31 PM
IanC 28 Mar 03 - 04:26 AM
nutty 28 Mar 03 - 04:57 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 25 Jan 08 - 03:53 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 12 - 06:35 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Jan 12 - 01:14 AM
Max Johnson 14 Jan 12 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 13 Sep 12 - 10:54 AM
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Subject: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 10:25 AM

In this song, every line rhymes so precisely.Then comes the verse, "Say, dainty nymphs and speak, shall we play barley-break." Are speak and break pronounced differently than in common English, or were they once? By the way, checking the threads on this song gave understanding to "barley-break" (thank you, Malcolm) - the hyphen clarifies what always puzzled me and I thought non-sensical.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: MMario
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 10:32 AM

it doesn't take much of a vowel shift.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 10:38 AM

Standard pronounciation has changed quite a bit over the centuries, but old rhymes are often retained in poetic diction long after they have been dropped in normal usage ("find" and "wind", for example). In this case, though, the words will have rhymed quite comfortably when they were written; in the 18th century, for example, "tea" was generally pronouced "tay" (approximately), and I'd think that much the same would be true of "speak" in this case. The older pronounciation persists in a number of regional dialects of English.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: IanC
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 10:38 AM

As you seem to have surmised, the game can be pronounced Barley-Breek.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 11:00 AM

Or "Speak" can be pronounced "Spake".


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: MMario
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 11:04 AM

or the two can be pronounced "speck" and "breck" - all have probably been correct at some point in the last 4 or 5 hundred years.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 11:05 AM

Either is possible, but the common spelling Barley-Brake would tend to support the latter suggestion, I think (see also my previous post).


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 11:06 AM

Cross-posted with MMario there.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 12:26 PM

Thomas Morley (1557-1602)


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 12:31 PM

What I was trying to say above was "the words will have rhymed quite comfortably when they were written; in the 18th century" try a little earlier. More info on Morley here
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 12:46 PM

Note the semi-colon in my post, which separates the statements. I was not suggesting that the song was written in the 18th century; merely providing a well-known and (to my mind) pertinent example of an earlier pronounciation of the ea sound. The sound as Morley probably pronounced it is harder to represent without using phonetic symbols, which is why I used the tea/tay example. He himself will never have drunk tea as we know it.


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: IanC
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 12:47 PM

All the above accepted. However, though the game is ancient (it was first documented in the reign of King Edward III) it is not antique. By this I mean that it was certainly played until recently, and I strongly suspect (see below) still is. It is, of course, a "country" game as the apparatus is available there (though it could be played in towns under the right circumstances).

As a child, I played this game. Two variants (none essentially involved couples) - one when there weren't that many people, where you swapped "it" when you caught someone - one for more people, where anybody "caught" joined in. Occasionally called by its name ("Barley Break" pron. "Breek" though we'd normally pronounce the word "Break" in any other context).

It was a summer game and not very often played. Usually in the fields after harvest, when there were blocks of bales and individual ones lying around. We'd move the bales to form a barrier with a gap. There was no specific designated "area", people had to just try and get past you.

The different concepts of "hell" and "home" (sometimes "base") were known but we didn't much use the terms (what need?).

I think it is probably still played occasionally. The reason I say this is that last year, when we had some special Jubilee things in the village, there was a field with marquee and straw bales. In the evening there was a concert in the marquee and as dusk fell there were about half a dozen pre-teens and young teens who had moved the bales and were playing "catch" in the same way. I recognised it as "Barley Break" and didn't it bring back some memories!

Childrens games are not passed down by generation, but from slightly older kids. They are amazingly tenacious in the right circumstances. I don't know if the kids know all the terms, and I'm unlikely to get much chance to ask them, but I suspect they do - as we did.

I wonder how many people think traditions are dead who just haven't had the chance to see them being carried on in their right environment?

:-)


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 02:31 PM

Thanks for these wonderful shared memories and all the erudition,


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: IanC
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:26 AM

Last night I went home and asked my 16 year old daughter about the game. I described the historical form and asked her if she played it.

"Oh yes", she said "that's Circle-E". She explained it was so-called because of the circle painted on the Ashwell School playground which they used for the game. She didn't know "hell" nor the name "Barley Break" (which is a pity, I think) but she did say it was "an Ashwell game" in the sense that it wan't played in her other schools (at Letchworth or Baldock), both nearby, but both small town schools.

By the way "Prisoner's Base", which my older children called "Homey" is now called "Dungeons and Dragons", according to Caroline.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Now is the Month of Maying
From: nutty
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:57 AM

There is a lovely history site here which includes both words and MP3 for this song and others

Click Here


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 25 Jan 08 - 03:53 PM

Nutty, could you check that site URL again?


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 06:35 PM

Is anyone on this list familiar with a May round whose words include:
The snow is on the hill and the wind is growing chill,
Is it May, merry May, I wonder.

It was in a Canadian elementary school book in the 1940s. The tune is lovely.
I'd love to find the music and the complete lyrics for it.


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 01:14 AM

The C18 pronunciation of '-ea-' is exemplified by this famous couplet ~~


Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take — and sometimes tea.

The Rape of the Lock: (Canto 3) 1712, by Alexander Pope

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: Max Johnson
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 07:03 AM

Interestingly, there's a nice 1970s recording of 'Threadbare' singing 'Now Is The Month Of Maying' on www.lostfolktapes.com


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM

Hello, Guest. You should start a new thread and call it something like "tune Req: the snow is on the hill."

Right now your request is buried in posts about a different song, and no one will notice it.


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Subject: RE: Info Req: Now is the Month of Maying
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 13 Sep 12 - 10:54 AM

Refresh- I'm teaching Renaissance dance to 7th grade Waldorf students this semester, and am enjoying all the variants of the game "barley break" I'm finding. Particularly interested to see that it's still going on! Any other input?


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