Pastoral Poems (Breton); Selected Poetry (Wither); Pastoral Poetry (Browne)/May Day Customs

May Day Customs

I have seen the Lady of the May
Set in an arbour, on a holiday,
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains,
When envious night commands them to be gone
Call for the merry youngsters one by one,
And for their well performance soon disposes:
To this a garland interwove with roses,
To that a carvèd hook or well-wrought scrip,
Gracing another with her cherry lip;
To one her garter, to another then
A handkerchief cast o'er and o'er again;
And none returneth empty that hath spent
His pains to fill their rural merriment.
From Britannia's Pastorals.