Sumer Is Icumen In. . . .

A highlight of spring this year was spending a few days in beautiful Cape Cod visiting with my friends at Paraclete Press. I also got to sit in on their editorial board meeting. I learned a great deal. I firmly believe that before you write a book proposal, you should first sit in on an editorial board meeting, and, likewise, before you ever write a Fulbright grant proposal, you should first participate in a few bi-national meetings that will require you to read through, interview, and decide which Korean professors and which Korean students will study on Fulbrights in America. It’s that simple.

The gorgeous weather in Georgia has made me think of a wonderful old song heralding the approach of summer. Last week and today have felt like the peak of summer, or the way summer should be, with temps at 80 or a smidge above, though that season won’t be official till past the middle of June after my husband’s birthday on the 17th of that month.

You can see this beautiful mid-thirteenth-century rota in a splendid manuscript from the British Library, MS Harley 978, f. 11v at — and here it is in all its glory:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu;
Groweth sed
and bloweth med,
And springth the wde nu;
Sing, cuccu!
Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calue cu;
Bulluc sterteth,
Bucke uerteth,
Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu;
Ne swic thu naver nu.
Pes: Sing, cuccu, nu; sing, cuccu;
Hoc repetit unus quociens opus est, faciens pausacionem
in finem.
Sing, cuccu; sing, cuccu, nu!

Summer has arrived,
Sing loudly, cuckoo!
The seed is growing
And the meadow is blooming,
And the wood is coming into leaf now,
Sing, cuckoo!
The ewe is bleating after her lamb,
The cow is lowing after her calf;
The bullock is prancing,
The billy-goat farting,
Sing merrily, cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo,
You sing well, cuckoo,
Never stop now.
Pes: Sing, cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo;
Sing, cuckoo; sing, cuckoo, now!

I will carry this song in my heart as I work on a book this summer while the Georgia heat surely cranks it up a notch, usually to above 100 (in the shade).


About Carmen

I teach English at Shorter College in beautiful Rome, Georgia.
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