The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn still.
* * *
Enough, enough, enough!
Enough of Putin and COVID and Disney(gay)world.
THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US.
That be Wordsworth. I betook myself to his sonnet and hied me away to the bosom of Mother Nature. I stood on a lea thrashed by the wind. I heard the sea. I saw children dancing around a maypole.
Great God! Today is May Day!
(Mayday! Mayday! Beware! Happy pagans frolicking ‘round maypoles erected hither and yon on town greens and in city parks.)
This year May Day falls on Sunday. A pagan delight.
Sunday is named after the sun. (Glory be to Brother Sun.)
Monday is named after the moon. (Glory be to Sister Moon.)
Tuesday after Tiu, the Germanic version of Mars, the Roman god of war. (Enough of the glory stuff.)
Wednesday after Woden, the Germanic version of the swift Roman god Mercury.
Thursday after Thor, the Nordic version of the Roman god Jupiter.
Friday after Fria, the Teutonic version of the Roman goddess of love, Venus. (TGIF!)
And Saturday is named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.
We’re pagans all week long.
May Day is a good day to let your inner pagan return to the bosom of Mother Nature. And if by chance Wordsworth’s sonnet was too opaque for you, maybe this song will be less so:
Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home. Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try an’ find Jesus on your own.
You probably won’t find Jesus, but you might find John Prine’s songs. And that will be a delight any day of the week.
* * *
My friend and I were recently discussing May Day on the occasion of his 73rd birthday. When elementary school students, we both recall celebrations at school. Prior to May 1 our classes would practice dancing around the May Pole to get it just right for the afternoon when mostly mothers, since father’s were working, would show up for the festivities held on the playground. Everyone was happy. It was spring. The cold blasts of winter were behind us; the countryside was blooming; and best of all, the end of the school year was drawing ever so much closer. Then suddenly this seemingly innocent, fun activity ceased. All we can figure now is that someone or another discovered that dancing around the May Pole and celebrating nature was an ancient pagan ritual. Whatever the cause, the happy time ended without explanation. It just suddenly wasn’t there any more. But I can still feel the warm sunlight and the thrill of being outside when everyone was happy. It was a small reprieve from the daily grind of “reading, writing, and arithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.” The years have flown since then; pause, be still, magic is in the air. Grasp it! Let it shine!
One of my favorite poems! Nothing much has changed in all these years!
No matter how a day seems to be labeled, it is an opportunity to live in grateful amazement. As Rabbi Joshua Heschel put it, “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted…To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Dancing around the May Pole can be an act of wonderment!
Thanks for a great reason to sit outside listening to the birds do their Sunday best….or John Prine. The nonhuman world as well as the human both from the same creator. Sometimes to lean into the still wild side is to worship…..pagan? or not
God made a song when the world was new
Water’s laughter sings it through
Oh, Wizard of changes
Teach me lesson of flowing –“Water Song” by Robin Williamson
Use to sing this to my kids when they were young.
Yes! AHO!! Weaving & dancing and singing in the May, together again, bedecked in flowers & buds… Celebrating this wonderment! Pagan means country dweller – the people of the country… we live in reciprocal relationships with the earth, and all her bounty. All she asks in return is to be loved, to be grateful, and to take only what we need (no more, & certainly not take all…)… celebrating at sunrise, and at noontime…🎶o happy day🎶🌈☀️🌻
Be careful what you write. Next thing you know, the fringe right will be demanding that the Pagan names of the days of the week be changed to Christian martyr names (or has that already been raised in Congress-or at least in Texas and Oklahoma?).
At Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church this morning we had a large Maypole at the altar. Who would have thunk??
Bring on the Morris dancers, the maypole and all the flowers in our hair