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Sumer is icumen in! or a brief interlude

Kitty's produce

Kitty’s produce

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wode nu,
Sing cuccu!

Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
Ne swik þu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

Yes, Sumer has icumed

One would never know that I was once fluent in Middle English (no jokes at the back, please). But I sang this in a capella choir in high school before having any knowledge of Middle English (see below for modern English translation and a Latin version with a bit of Christianity injected). Have a listen: Sumer is icumen in

But I Digress Majorly

I must apologize to all my subscribers and those to whom I subscribe as I have been remiss these past few weeks in reading and writing. Imagine a giant blackboard: I promise to do better in the next few weeks. That’s why this is called a ‘brief interlude’ because instead of my reports on the birds and bees front (both surprisingly good in the last few weeks), I will bring you photos and song. I will give a full update on the bees in the next blog post with a follow-up on birds. I promise (no, those aren’t fingers crossed behind my back).

For now, you have had a round from the Middle Ages. And a lovely collection of jewel-like fruit from my friend Kitty’s garden. If you squint, you would almost think she is offering you rubies.

Some More Song from a Queen Bee

I was on one of my endless drives home the other day and happened to catch a recording of Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. I don’t ever recall hearing them before, and the lyrics taken from poems are rather somber. But it’s Jessye Norman singing, so of course I was immediately awe-struck (no, I was not riding from Damascus, but I might as well have been!) This is the last song of the four, but I recommend a listen to all of them: Jessye Norman

And a Photo from Another One

So, my niece sent me a few photos. She has a new camera and is about to take up the family hobby of photography (my brother’s family, as the photography gene skipped over me). She sent me pretty photos of sky and flower, but I asked her about this one in particular:

Boat on Lake

Boat on Lake

She said ” I wanted to make it really sharp for the light and see the water in a blurry way to make it special. To just focus on that.”  I like that she is developing her own eye instead of letting the camera do the seeing for her.

Another Queen Bee….

In Distant Intimacy: A Friendship in the Age of the Internet Frederic Raphael and Joseph Epstein have published their email traffic. During their exchange, “Epstein suggests…and it is a tenable opinion, that Willa Cather may have been ‘the best of the last century’s American novelists.’

It’s great to see a man elevate a woman author in such a way, but I think it interesting the seemingly necessary interjection by the Spectator reviewer, Richard Davenport-Hines, ‘a tenable position’ as if Epstein’s opinion here needed outside corroboration.

And Those Translations…

Modernish English

Summer is a coming in, loudly sing Cuckoo!
Groweth mead and bloweth seed and springeth wood anew.
Sing Cuckoo!

Bleateth ewe, lamb after loweth, after calf the cow.
Bullock soundeth, buck reboundeth
Merry sing Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, Cuckoo, singeth well thou Cuckoo, nor cease thou never now.

Latin (much different)
Perspice Christicolaque dignacio
Celicus agricolapro vitis vicio
Filio non parcensexposuit mortis exicio
Qui captivos semiuiuos a supplicio
Vite donat et secum coronatin celi solio

Observe, Christian, such honour!
The heavenly farmer, owing to a defect in the vine, not sparing the Son,exposed him to the destruction of death.
To the captives half-dead from torment,
He gives them life and crowns them with himself on the throne of heaven

All except crap translation from Middle English can be found at Wikipedia


6 thoughts on “Sumer is icumen in! or a brief interlude

  1. I took Latin in school and my favorite year quote was from one of my Latin classmates. “Latin is a dead language, it is plain to see. It killed off all the Romans and now is killing me.” Actually I loved my Latin class and even remember a few words.

    Posted by Pat Bean | July 21, 2013, 4:34 pm
  2. The Ezra Pound variation has nearly eclipsed this one in our memory.

    Posted by theprospectofbees | July 22, 2013, 6:47 pm
  3. A blog with thorns! Heaven. Thank you.

    Posted by devilscustard | September 20, 2013, 2:42 pm

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