June Rhymes and Miscellanea

Four seeds in a hole
One for the rook, one for the crow,
One to rot, and one to grow.

(Old saying)

“If the oak is out before the ash,
‘Twill be a summer of set and splash.
But if the ash is before the oak,
‘Twill be a summer of fire and smoke.”

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I Remember, I Remember

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon
Nor brought too long a day;
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away.

I remember, I remember
The roses red and white,
The violets and the lily cups–
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,–
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then
That is so heavy now,
The summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow.

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy.

Thomas Hood

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Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe –
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
‘Where are you going, and what do you wish?’
The old moon asked the three.
‘We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!’
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea—
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish—
Never afeard are we”;
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ‘t was a dream they ‘d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea—
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

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June – Days of the Month

1st – St Wistan’s Day

A Saxon prince who died in AD 850.

2nd – St Elmo’s Day

Patron saint of stomach disorders and bowel troubles.

The flickering electrical flashes seen on ships masts around the time of a storm is named St Elmo’s fire after him.

“Sometime I’d divide and burn in many places: on the topmast,
The yards and bowspit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet and join.”

4th – St Petroc’s Day

St Petroc founded two monastries in Cornwall, at Padstow and Little Petherick.

5th – St Boniface’s Day

Born in Crediton, Devon, in 675, he wrote England’s first Latin Grammar, and was an influential missionary, converting the German and Frankish tribes. He was murdered in about 754.

7th – St Colman’s Day

His well stands by the ruined Church of Cranfield in County Antrim, and visitors would go and take the water to find a cure for their ills.

8th – St William of York’s Day

William was the nephew of King Stephen and was Archbishop of York in 1141. Thirty six miracles are attributed to him.

Edward the Black Prince died on this day in 1376. He always wore black armour, and gained great honours early, helping to win the Battle of Crecy in 1346, at the age of 16.

Robert the Bruce died on this day in 1329.

9th – St Faustus’ Day and St Columba’s Day

St Faustus said to St Medard, “Barnabas and Vitus are my neighbours, and together we will give the country folk a good washing till Frederick the Hollander (July 18th) comes and closes the doors of Heaven.”

St Columba lived on the Isle of Iona. Credited with numerous miracles, such as driving away a monster that lived in Loch Ness.

“If you wear the flower of St John’s Wort in your armpit like St Columba did, it will ward off evil.”

This day is a very lucky day, especially when it falls on a Thursday, as it does this year (2011).

11th – St Barnabas’ Day

Martyred in AD71. An early Christian disciple companion of St Paul (formerly Saul – a member of the Sanhedrin). A dozen or so ancient churches are dedicated to him.

This day was much celebrated in the 15th and 16th centuries, when churches were decorated with garlands of roses, woodruff and lavender. Collections were made for the poor.

‘Barnaby bright, Barnaby bright,
The longest day and the shortest night!’

St Barnabas’ Day is the traditional start of hay-making. ‘By St Barnabas put scythe to grass.’

When Barnaby bright shines night and day,
Poor ragged robin blooms in the hay.

13th – St Anthony of Padua’s Day

He died in 1231, and is invoked in finding lost objects.

This is the day of the Celtic god Nodons. He had a shrine at Lydney, in the Forest of Dean.

14th

Today in 1645 the Battle of Naseby took place. Charles I and his army suffered a crushing defeat.

15th – St Vitus’ Day

Because angels danced for him (allegedly) when he was in prison, he’s the patron saint of dancers. Also, he is the patron saint of nervous disorders and also helps sluggards get out of bed.

‘If St Vitus’ Day be rainy weather
It will rain for thirty days together.’

On this day in 1215 King John (1167-1216) set his seal on Magna Carta – “Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign” – Magna Carta (1215).

16th

On this day in 1939 a downpour of tiny frogs fell on Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

17th – St Botolph’s Day

Boston in Lincolnshire is named after him – ‘Botolph’s Town’.

Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasant’s Revolt, was killed today in 1381.

18th – The Battle of Waterloo, 1815

21st – Summer Solstice

The shortest night of the year, celebrated by the Druids. People gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun come up over the heel stone (in the erroneous belief that the monument is aligned on the mid-summer sunrise, when it fact it is aligned on the mid-winter moonrise).

Every summer solstice crowds gather at the Parish Church of Edward the Confessor in Leek, Staffordshire, to witness the strange double sunset. From the north east corner of the churchyard, known as Doctor’s Corner, due to the eight doctors buried there, the sun sinks behind Cloud End Hill, only to reappear further north a hew minutes later and set for a second time.

If the cuckoo is heard today, it foretells a wet summer.

22nd – St Thomas Moore’s Day

Executed in 1535, a martyr to the Catholic faith, refusing to recognise Henry VIII as head of the Church.

23rd – Midsummer Eve. Also St John’s Eve

To all young girls – Go clockwise round the church seven times at midnight tonight, and over your left shoulder you will see the form of your future lover.

‘Hempseed I sow, hempseed I sow,
Let him that is my true love come after me and mow.’

Activities on this day included dancing around bonfires, gathering branches and flowers to decorate the home and ward off evil spirits, and performing rituals to see the identity of guture spouses.

“If we shadows have offended
Think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While those visions did appear.”
(Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

24th – Midsummer Day / St John the Baptist’s Day

Midsummer was one of the high spots of the festival year in medieval times.

To dream of a future lover tonight, sleep with a lump of coal under your pillow. And it is said if you run backwards around Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex seven times at midnight the devil will appear with a bowl of porridge.

Gooseberries officially ripen today.

St John the Baptist was born 6 months before Christ. He preached in the wilderness of Judaea and baptised converts in the River Jordan (converts to what? – he hadn’t even met Jesus at that time, let alone learned about the new religion). His day has always been a time of outdoor celebration, houses were decorated with greenery, and the ashes of the midsummer fire were used to tell fortunes and foretell the future.

The flower St. John’s Wort was traditionally picked on this day to protect against evil and cure many ailments.

He was a well known saint in England, and his symbol, the lamb, made him popular in the old wool producing countries. Five hundred churches in England are dedicated to him.

“Cut off thistles before St John,
You will have two instead of one.”

‘If the cuckoo sings after St John’s Day, the harvest will be late.

26th – St Anne’s Day

This used to be the date for the old Pershore Fair in Worcestershire, celebrating the cherry harvest.

“The cuckoo comes in April, and sings his song in May.
He buys a horse at Pershore Fair and then he rides away.”

28th – St Peter’s Eve / St Paul’s Eve

This day was formerly marked by festivities and rituals similar to Midsummer Eve. Fairies and witches were said to be about between the two dates. In parts of Lincolnshire young girls believed that they would dream of their future husband if they went to bed with a bunch of keys tied with a lock of their hair.

29th – St Peter’s Day / St Paul’s Day

They were apostles of Jesus Christ, allegedly, who were martyred at Rome by Emperor Nero. Over a thousand churches are dedicated to St Peter. His symbol is the crossed keys.

On this day churches dedicated to St Peter were strewn with sweet meadow hay.

‘Unless the apples are christened by the rain on St Peter’s Day, the crop will not be good.’

Hereward the Wake died on this day in 1071, murdered by the Normans.

30th

Everard Digby died today in 1606. One of the Gunpowder plotters, he was hung, drawn and quartered, and when his heart was plucked from his chest it was declared, “Here is the heart of a traitor!” Digby, crowd pleaser to the last, replied, “Thou liest!”

In 1859 Charles Blondin was the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

In 1894 on this day London’s Tower Bridge was officially opened.

In 1980 the British sixpenny piece ceased to be legal tender.

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Summer Is Here

June has now come, bending beneath her weight of roses, to ornament the halls and bowers which summer has hung with green. For this is the month of roses, and their beauty and fragrance conjure up again many in poetical creation which memory had buried . . .

This is the season to wander into the fields and woods, with a volume of sterling poetry for companionship, and compare the descriptive passages with the objects that lie around. We never enjoy reading portions of Spenser’s Fairy Queen so much as when among the great green trees in summer.

1st June is generally regarded as the first day of summer.

June probably takes its name from the Roman goddess Juno. The Saxons called it ‘dry month’. In Welsh it is ‘Mehefin’, in Irish-Gaelic ‘Meitheamh’, and in Scottish it is ‘Meadhan-Sambraidh’.

June water is said to cure eye ailments.

Here are some popular rhymes and sayings for the month.

‘If on the eighth of June it rain,
It foretells a wet harvest, men sain.’

A good leak in June
Sets all in tune.

Married in the month of roses – June
Life will be one long honeymoon.

‘Calm weather in June
Sets the corn in tune.’

Grey mist at dawn
The day will be warm.

A sunshiny shower
Won’t last half an hour.

‘Rain from the east
Will last three days at least.’

June damp and warm
Doth the farmer no harm.

The moon and the weather
Cbange together.

‘Moon on it’s back
Holds water in its lap.’

If the rain comes down slanting
It will be everlasting.

A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon.

‘Spud a thistle in June,
It will come again soon.’

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