Ce Mois De Mai! – Clement Janequin

And here we are, with a chanson of Clement Janequin (sometimes Jannequin), Ce mois de Mai

The text is in old French (first half of 16th century), which even mighty Google Translate runs aground on, but some fragments are more or less comprehensible: “The month of May, I put on my green coat this pretty merry month of May in the morning… one [leap], two [leaps], three leaps…” the rest is pretty much hash to me, but the linked YouTube also has the original text, if anyone would like to make a go at it. [UPDATE: l’Enfant de la Haute Mer has kindly translated the text in the comments… better her translation than Google’s or mine!]

This “pretty merry month of May” in Houston has a temperature of 79°F at only 10:30 AM; it’s going to be a hot one before the day is through.

There are literally hundreds of events listed for May 1, including an assortment of ancient (and not-so-ancient) holidays… Beltane in the Gaelic calendar, International Workers’ Day (called “Law Day” or “Loyalty Day” in the US, considering America’s unrestrained prejudice against workers), Labour Day (in a lot of places), and the birthdays of Calamity Jane, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Kate Smith.

Oh, and this week (Thursday) is the grotesquely inappropriate National Day of Prayer in the US: the notion that we should all fall down and pray at the same time rather offends me. Quick… somebody tell me whom I’m supposed to pray to… perhaps the one true god in America… Mammon?

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  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    This month of May, This month of May,
    This month of May, My green petticoat,
    This month of May, I will wear.
    Early in the morning I will rise,
    This lovely, lovely month of May;
    Early in the morning I will rise:
    One leap, two leaps, three leaps,
    In the street I will do,
    To see if my boyfriend will see me.
    I will tell him that he may remove my petticoat
    As he does I will kiss him.

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Splendid! Thank you, Enfant! I did not know that your knowledge of French extended back almost five centuries! Many years ago I sang this song in a choir… a Unitarian-Universalist choir, not surprisingly; they’re about the only religion in America broadminded enough to sing such a song in their church.

      • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm


        Let’s put it like this:
        I was able to understand just a little bit more than you…
        But, let this be between the two of us!
        Musike for the NyweYeare 2010 :
        page 4.

        • Steve  On Tuesday May 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm

          Ah! Enfant, I am reminded of the days when I was responsible for translating German texts, mostly of cantatas written in the 100 years before J.S. Bach, for my ensemble. Often the German was fairly straightforward. (We were lucky: we had someone else to translate French, and still another person to translate Italian… most of us could adequately muddle along in Latin.) But the very best translations from German were… those that I didn’t have to do at all, because I found them in print, either in some other ensemble’s printed program or in a book in one of the two very good music libraries available to me at the time.

          I notice this concert was in Maine. I’ve never been to Maine, though one of my maternal uncles moved to New Hampshire because he liked watching the deer on the snow outside his house. Here in Houston, we see deer occasionally on the outskirts of the city, but we see snow only about every five years or so, and even those days may be past in this era of global climate change.

          • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Wednesday May 2, 2012 at 4:28 am

            even if there was very few I didn’t understand, I suppose, you would never expect me to translate in so good English!!

            • Steve  On Wednesday May 2, 2012 at 8:11 am

              Enfant, your English is excellent, and certainly better than my French… or Greek! 🙂

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