Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Sumer is icumen in"

It looks like our cool spring is coming to a close. There's a song for that.

"Sumer is icumen in," or "Summer has come in" exemplifies the 13th-century rota (Latin for "wheel"), something similar to our idea of a canon or round (like "Row, row, row your boat"). It was composed around 1250 in Wessex English, so some words are familiar, but most aren't.

Here's one of many text translations:

   Summer has come in, loudly sing cuckoo!
   The seed grows and the meadow blooms
   And the wood springs anew, sing cuckoo!
   The ewe bleats after the lamb, the cow lows after the calf.
   The bullock stirs, the buck-goat turns, merrily sing cuckoo!
   Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo!
   Don't ever you stop now, sing cuckoo now! Sing cuckoo!

Give it a listen as you welcome summer: