I wrote this a long time ago when Blake’s Cottage was not under threat of ultimate decay and of being condemned and pulled down, as it is now. I’ve put it up now as a reminder of easier and happier times.
May Day in the Rectory Gardens beside Blake’s Cottage, Felpham
And two by two, their innocent faces clean,
The children file to dance upon the green,
Beside his bosky cottage, which they skirt,
Policed by grim-faced teachers, on the alert
For the least sign of infant insurrection,
And watched by parents full of anxious pride
Who’ve come to admire the costumes that they chose,
The hair they brushed into such careful curls.
Six pink embarrassed boys and sixty girls
Each primly sweet beneath her paper crown,
Each neat and well-behaved, her eyes cast down.
Polite taped music smooths them on their way.
Policemen smile benignly. It is May.
Above our heads the riotous blossom roars,
The sap has risen, the sky is rude with light
And birds scream sex and instinct and delight.
Bold and erotic and unsuitable
Grass grows long hair, the spikey hedge erupts
Into a busy tangle of green hands
And heavy bosomed buds thrust into life.
A decorous queen is crowned and tea is served
To decorous ladies young and old, who smile,
Happy together round the vicarage lawn.
Dancers arrive, six geriatric Folk
Still going strong despite their eighty years,
Who creep and tortoise to an antique dance
To celebrate this time of youth and chance.
Blake’s wild, glad Angels sit in every tree
Howling with laughter at such company.
Love will not be subdued or quiet or neat.
The word is risen upon splendid feet,
The world’s on heat, the sun’s a blazing sword.
Oh May Day! M’aidez! M’aidez, Lord!