The Month of Maying

Now is the month of maying is one of the most famous of the English balletts, by Thomas Morley published in 1595.  The song delights in bawdy double-entendre. It is apparently about spring dancing, but this is a sexual metaphor. For example, a “barley-break” would have suggested outdoor sexual activity (rather like we might say a “roll in the hay”). The use of such imagery was very customary during the Renaissance.

Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing,
Fa la la la la la la la la,
Fa la la la la la lah.
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass.
Fa la la, etc…

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness,
Fa la la, etc…
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground.
Fa la la, etc…

Fie then! why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing?
Fa la la, etc…
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play barley-break?
Fa la la etc…