July Rhymes and Miscellanea

July is named after Julius Caesar, who was born on 12th July. In Welsh it is Gorfennof – the month of completion, in Gaelic it is Am Mius buidhe – the yellow month, and in Anglo Saxon it is Litha – the month of the midsummer moon.

If the first of July be rainy weather,
It will rain more or less for four weeks together.

A shower of rain in July when the corn begins to fill
Is worth a plough of oxen, and all belongs there till.

No tempest, good July,
Lest the corn come off bluely.

“Bow-wow, dandy fly,
Brew no beer in July.”

Cut thistles in July, then they will die.

Married in July with flowers ablaze,
Bittersweet memories on after days.

July to whom the dog star in her train
St James gives oysters and St Swithin rain.

A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a butterfly.


July is now what our old poets loved to call ‘sweet summer time, when the leaves are greeen and long,’ for in such brief word-painting did they picture this pleasant season of the year; and, during this hot month, we sigh while perusing the ancient ballad-lore, and wish we could recall the past, were it only to enjoy a week with Robin Hood and his merry men in the free old forests . . . We heel the harness chafe in which we have hitherto so willingly worked, amid the ‘fever and the fret’ of the busy city, and pine to get away to some place where we can hear the murmur of the sea, or what is nearest the sound – the rustle of the summer leaves.


Here’s a fitting little rhyme for this time of year, from A. W.Housman (1859-1936):

“Into my heart an air that kills…”
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

And another one, this time from Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953):

MATILDA told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London’s Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
‘Matilda’s House is Burning Down!’
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda’s Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away!

It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out–
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street–
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) — but all in vain!
For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’
They only answered ‘Little Liar!’
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

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.’

The Merrie Month of May

Jolly rumbelow
We were up
Long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o!
Summer is a comin’ in
And winter’s gone away-o!


Rough winds do shake
The darling buds of May


May probably takes its name from Maia, a Roman goddess of growth. The Welsh word is Mai. The Irish-Gaelic name for the month is Bealtaine. The festival Beltane takes place on 1st May.

The Anglo-Saxons named it Tri-Milchi, because cattle feeding on the rich pastures could be milked three times a day. The Gauls called it Mios Bochuin – the month of swelling.

May brings with her the beauty and fragrance of hawthorn blossoms and the song of the nightingale. Our old poets delighted in describing her as a beautiful maiden, clothed in sunshine, and scattering flowers on the earth, while she danced to the music of birds and brooks.

She has given a rich greenness to the young corn, and the grass is now tall enough for the flowers to play at hide-and-seek as they are chased by the wind. The grass also gives a softness to the dazzling white of the daisies and the glittering gold of the buttercups.


Here are some popular rhymes and sayings for May:

A hot May makes a fat churchyard

The haddocks are good
When dipped in May flood

Many thunderstorms in May
And the farmer sings ‘hey, hey!’

“Keep buttoned to the chin ’till May be out.”

Shear your sheep in May
And shear them all away.

Married when bees over May-blossom flit,
Strangers around your board will sit.

A warm and dapple May,
The barns are full of hay.

“Cold May
Long corn, short hay.”

Cast not a clout
‘Till May is out.

Marry in May
Rue the day.

Who weeds in May
Throws all away.

“A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay.”

Water in May is bread all the year

A snowstorm in May
Brings weight to the hay.

Who doffs his coat on a winter’s day
Will gladly put it on in May.

“A windy March and a rainy April
Make a beautiful May.”

May makes or mars the wheat.

Mist in May, heat in June
Makes the harvest come right soon.

No wind is colder than a May wind