Each month I publish a newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk
May 1st 1839: THE ENGLISH CARNIVAL
The 1st of May is unquestionably a species of carnival in this country ; it comprises among Charles Lamb’s friends the chummies or sweeps, “fiddling, masking, dancing, and other things that may be had for asking” – that is, a few pence ; and, thanks be to this cold northern clime of ours, nothing more. Pity it is that they should be to the busy – those intent on worldly gain – a nuisance. They are so in the strait-built streets of the city, where the commerce of the world is transacted. But who of kindly heart, on the 1st day of May, cares for the growls of the obstructed merchant, or the curses of the hemmed importer? Look at the children how they flock together – how they run after “Jack-in-the-green,” and his masked, and piping, and fiddling, and drum-beating suite. Wednesday was a lovely May-day, and the streets of the metropolis profited by it. Jack-in-the-green had been seldom seen clad in greener or gayer colours, and rarely has he been followed by a more numerous or laughing cortège. Every lane and alley – hotbeds of population – poured out its juvenile and imitating admirers after him.
The Charter, 5 May 1839, page 230.
The picture featured this month is entitled “May Day or Jack in the Green” The artist and date are unknown
I would like to wish all our members a Merry Yuletide and a Happy Christmas. My thanks for all your support in the last year and my best wishes to you all for 2015.
My thanks to Rose Blakeley for sending us her wonderful picture above and poem below, perfect for our Yuletide post!
The Oak King
Come forth my king, through forests of snow
As the quiescent land, it freezes below,
For all life awaits for your lantern of light,
The winter to flee and the dark to ignite.
See how the thaw, it now does begin
As an emerald glow gleams from your luminous skin
And your cascading cloak of acorn and oak,
At its touch, an awakening, it does provoke.
Bring white waxing moons, my clement king,
Unfurl the leaf bud, herald the spring,
Summon the blossom, the sweet flowers of May,
Turn the axis of time this mid-winter day.
Cast down your eyes of green on the soil,
So the snowdrop, from slumber, will slowly uncoil
To face a warm sun, and an amiable breeze,
As you relish your reign amongst the viridescent trees.
By Rose Blakeley
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