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queen, among the rude and the polished, the sons of the north and the dwellers beneath sunny skies. On the first of May, the austere Druids lighted their Beal-tine fires, and decorated their dwellings with garlands. The Romans dedicated May to Maia, the beautiful mother of Mercury, and crowned themselves with her blooming chaplets, when they celebrated their floral games. Festivals of flowers are recognised in India. The Greeks had their festal games of the anthesphoria, or flower-bearing. At the commencement of May, the Scandinavians held a festival, in which the young men divided themselves into two parties, one in favour of the introduction of summer, the other desiring the continuance of winter; but after a short and fictitious conflict, the latter yielded an easy victory to the summer-champions, who on their triumph were crowned with garlands, and sang festive songs. At Eisenach, in Saxony, a reminiscence of this custom was long preserved, in a kind of festival called Sommers-Gewinn,the gaining of the summer. A figure, dressed to represent winter, was carried out of the town by a party of young men, who were met by another party, decked with May-boughs, and bearing a figure emblematic of summer. 'Winter' was treated with indignity, and flung to a distance, as sent into exile. The parties then paraded the fields, singing national ballads in praise of spring and summer, and then carried Summer' into town in triumph. Such was the holiday about seventy years ago: it has since dwindled down to a simple floreal commemoration of May, by the young people carrying boughs, adorned with early flowers, and strings of birds' eggs.
Who knows not the glories of May in the days of old England, when it used to be merry England? May morning was ushered in by the blowing of horns; the houses were decked with garlands; the tall flower-wreathed May-pole was brought to its destined site, on a wain drawn by oxen with wreaths round their horns; joyous groups went into the country a-maying, to dance, and feast, and sing May ballads, and gather nosegays. Even bluff King Hal and stately Queen Bess acknowledged the claim of their sister sovereign, the floreal queen, to their annual compliment, and went outa-maying,' to witness and encourage the festivity of their subjects. Greatly, indeed, have the English floralia diminished; partly from the change in habits and manners; for with increased wealth England seems to think increase of gravity befitting, and that the well-to-do in the world ought to look sedate, and eschew the light hearts and light heels that show there is no ballast in the pocket to steady them. But we may also ascribe much of the dwindling of our floralia to the change of style in our compu tation of time, which making new May-day eleven days earlier than the old one, brings it into a period more chilly and less flowery, and less suited to out-of-door festivities.
But the homage to May is not limited to the champêtre and the literally floreal. Poets early learned to celebrate in verse the month that was the bringer of so many flowers, (the hopes of the year,) and the harbinger of so many more; the month that demonstrated the conquest of summer over winter; the month redolent of hope and love and sweet sympathies with Nature, to many-and to some of sad but cherished memories. Short lyrics are the flowers of poetry. The attribute of the long grave epic is the laurel-bay; and Clio is crowned with its evergreen-leaves, but Erato wears a chaplet of summer roses. Ben Jonson speaks of sweet poesy's sacred garland, and Horace calls upon his lyric muse to gather sunny flowers for a garland to crown Elius Lamia.t Long ago the Greeks likened poems to flowers. The Greek anthology derives its name from anthos, a flower; and its first collector, Meleager, in his poetic preface, views the collection as a crown or garland, and the poems of each author as flowers; thus the poetesses Anyte, Erinne, and Nossis contribute lilies, crocuses, and the
Allegory by Arnaud, on his Exile.
iris; Sappho's flowers are 'few, save roses.' Callimachus brings the flowering-myrtle; Alcaeus, the hyacinth; Leonidas, the joy-flower; Melanippidos, the Narcissus; Damagetus, the purple violet, &c.
It was probably Meleager's Garland that suggested the idea of a floreal homage in the 17th century, which is the most gallant union of flowers and poetry we can call to mind. It is La Guirlande de Julie; the wedding present of the Duke de Montausier to the beautiful Julia de Rambouillet, on the morning of their marriage. The gift was a folio volume, magnificently bound; the leaves were of the finest vellum; and on each a garden flower was painted by a skilful pencil; for the Duke employed the best artists on this occasion. Under each flower was inscribed by the hand of the most perfect calligrapher that could be found, a short poem applicable to the flower there represented, and pointed with a compliment to the charms of the incomparable Julia. These effusions were composed for The Garland of Julia by the most celebrated poets then in France. Among others, Corneille contributed the 'Orange-flower,' the Tulip,' and the White Everlasting;' Benserade, the 'Snowdrop;' Desmarets, the Violet ;' Malleville the 'Pansy' and the Marygold;' Chapelain the Crown Imperial; which poem contained, beside the usual homage to Julia, an allusion to the glorious death, at Lutzen, of Gustavus Adolphus, the heroic King of Sweden, whose character was so much admired by Mademoiselle de Rambouillet, that she always kept his portrait lying on her toilet (beauty's domestic altar). Laid beside that portrait Julia found her Garland, when she went to attire herself for her nuptials. The beautiful book was long preserved by the heirs of Julia, but, participating in the vicissitudes of the first Revolution, it fell from its high estate;' and in 1795 was exposed for sale (through what means we know not) at a pawnbroker's establishment in Hamburg. Of its subsequent fate we are ignorant.
Will it be permitted to us, if, following out an idea suggested by the Garland of Meleager, we offer a wreath as a floreal tribute to our readers on May-day? We will not venture to bring it from our own humble garden. No! it shall be composed of foreign-born flowers, culled from those that entwine the lyres held by the muses of other lands. We will translate a few flowers of poesy from tongues in which we have some poor gift, and fashion them, as best we may, into the guise of an English coronal, for the English readers of Regina.'
The Genius of France gives the first contribution to our garland-the leaf of an oak-not of our own British naval oak, but of the Holm-oak of Southern Europe.
ALLEGORY BY ARNAUD, ON HIS EXILE.
FROM THE FRENCH.
De ta tige detachée,
'Poor withered leaf, torn from thy spray,
For since the fatal storm that broke
My only stay, my native oak,
The sport of air am I.
Now through the vale, beside the fountain,
Now, rudely whirl'd along the mountain,
Passive and mute wherever driven,
And the frail leaflet of the rose.
From Italy's muse we bring a purple violet.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF F. DALL' UNGARO.
Qual fior fra i gigli della tua ghirlanda,
No flowret with the lilies vying
Where bud or blossom cannot spring.
Then I, in sorrow skill'd, will sing thee
From Germany we will cull a native forget-me-not.
FROM THE GERMAN OF DR. JUSTIN KERNER,
A Swabian Physician, and the friend of the Seer-ess of Prevorst.
Pledge round the bright wine! even now we must part:
The sun cannot tarry, or rest in the sky:
But onwards o'er oceans and regions must hie:
The wave cannot cleave to the lone desert strand:
The wild wind must sweep unconfined through the land.
Through forests, through valleys, the youth must go forth,
There greet him the birds that beyond seas he knew ;
Those wild birds the roof of his father have known;
Now turn we to Spain. From the Cancionero General (General Songbook) of the fifteenth century, we extract a little poem, which mingles in our garland as a young, unopened rose-bud of late flowering hope.
FROM THE SPANISH OF TAPIA.
Heart! that the pang dost bear,
It comes, need'st thou for that despair?
· Heart! that to soothe thine ill,
Hold fast thy faith and patience still!
So may the faith that hath endured,
May not hope's life annihilate.
From the sister muse of Portugal, we will take the purple Scabious, viewed by the Portuguese as a flower of melancholy, because the pure white specks that show upon its dark petals look like tears* besprinkling a mourning garment; hence they have made it the emblem of that fond regret, that tender melancholy, that anxious and inconsolable longing after the absent and beloved, which is expressed by the untranslatable word saudade; and they call the Scabious "The Flower Saudade.'
TO THE SCABIOUS, THE FLOWER OF REGRET.
Vem ca, minha companheira,
Vem triste e mimosa Flor.
Sweet, mournful flower, companion mine,
That love can fade, frail flower, like thee.
As beautiful as e'en thou art
Is she to whom my vows I pay;
But sad my fate, if in her heart
Love, with thy bloom, should fade away.
To sigh away my latest breath.
Far from the shade where oft to woo
Thee, Zephyr came from genial skies,
With grief than thine must be my doom;
Its timid hope, its calm delight
Then, then its sorrows mightst thou guess.
* Hence the French call the Scabious, 'The Widows' Flower: La Fleur des Vouves.
What have I said? Sweet flower, forget
Its hallow'd myst'ries to reveal.
Our next contribution shall be from the Irish, a language far more foreign, far less known, we apprehend, to the majority of our readers, than any of the preceding from which we have translated, though it is the original language of an integral part of the British empire; and though its literature is rich and varied, and has teemed with innumerable poets, with even peasant-poets, not only in the olden times, but even in modern days. England has been proud of a Bloomfield and a Clare; but Ireland has many such, who in their unpatronized-nay, con temned, but most expressive mother-tongue, have poured forth myriads of lays full of sweetness, feeling, and delicacy. Alas! they have been mainly preserved only in the memory of a now fast emigrating people; and are thus rapidly dying out from their country, like autumn leaves floating down the stream of time towards the gulf of oblivion. One specimen we shall extract from among many by James M'Cuairt (Anglicé, Courtney), who flourished about 1712. He was a poor blind peasant, born in Louth, but residing chiefly in Meath, where he led a wandering life, supported by the hospitality and benevolence of those who, understanding Irish, appre ciated the poetic talents of Blind Courtney.' We feel that we cannot do justice to the sweetness and pathos of the original: but notwithstanding the imperfections of our translation, we will offer it as a shamrock, gathered from the banks of one of Ireland's best known and most historic rivers.
FAREWELL TO THE BOYNE.
FROM THE IRISH OF JAMES M'CUAIRT (OR COURTNEY).
Boyne!* red Boya's ancient river!
Thou hast seen Ir's champions brave;
Seen Milesian banners wave.
Boyne! the gore of battle dyed thee,
Boyne! o'er thy translucent water
Dost thou, Boyne, grow old and hoary,
Boyne! thou'st seen proud coursers bounding,
Harp and song thou'st heard resounding
'Mid the games of sportive band.
Boyne! once loved by bards and sages,
sons of Milesins,
Boya, or Boa, the red-haired, an ancient Irish queen (in the first century) drowned in the Boyne, named after her. Ir and Eiver, landed from Spain at the mouth of the Boyne, about 1000' years before (their The Fenians, troops of Finn, the original of M'Pherson's fictitious Fir flourished up to the end of the third century. Conn, of the hundred b century), warred with the King of Leinster. Art was his son,' king.
The southern O'Neils, descendants of Niul, King of Irelan the race is a red, or bloody hand.