The poem is set in preindustrial and early industrial England and relates to the May Day practice whereby young maids in the villages went out in the morning to gather flowers for their mothers to use as decorations for the festival home. The poem draws on some writings by contemporary puritanical opponents of the practice.
Young ladies to, celebrate The May,
Out early morn, finding a bouquet.
Their families' homes. to soon adorn,
Gathering May baskets, in the corn.
Young wenches with, young lads doth play,
And laugh and court, in meadows stray.
On a warm and sunny, spring day such deeds,
May simply be guessed, among the meads.
In every bush, a song be’est made,
The landscapes beauty, is now laid.
In some secrete place, within the field,
Young men and maidens, willingly yield.
Oft ten maiden, who went to the May,
Nine returned home, with infant that day.
Its best be said: ‘courtship bed and wed’,
Else ‘grass widows’ women, be thee instead.
In every marriage, it be’est said,
In Avalon’s fields, bed precedes wed.
Love poems, to mistresses be writ,
Before to wenches, they doth commit.
Copyright Andrew Rea 2008