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Laa Boaldyn (May Day)

01 Oct

Here is a fairly modern poem from the Isle of Man, detailing one man’s memories of celebrating Laa Boaldyn, the Manx equivalent of “Bealtaine” or Bealltainn. It’s maybe a little out of season here in the northern hemisphere, but for those of you down south I’m sure it’s quite topical! The notes given at the bottom are by the author of the poem and help to explain some of the Manx terms or folklore smattered throughout

The season has returned again,
When the bwillogh is all in bloom,
By April’s sun and showers of rain,
And evening dew and midnight gloom.

I still remember days gone by,
When I was but a little lad,
We plucked the yellow flowers with joy,
And on May-eve we all were glad.

At eyery door we laid them down,
That fair Titania might see
The beauteous flowers scatter’d round,
And dance around with fairy glee.

The Fairy Queen—the old folk said—
Was going round on old May-night
When all mankind was gone to bed,
And in the flowers did delight.

She kindly blessed each little cot,
Where yellow flowers did appear:
If there were none – she blessed them not
But gave bad luck through all the year.

I still remember on May-day,
Those flowers scatter’d in Cregnaish,
But since the Queen is gone away
No flowers at the door we place.

No more among the trammon trees,
The little elves or fairies swing,
Hopping amongst the leaves like bees,
Or little birds upon the wing.

And branches of the rowan tree
Were carefully in crosses made,
And placed in holes where none could see,
To keep away each witching jade.

While bonfires blazed on every hill,
To keep the buitching crew at bay.
And some folks kindle fires still
To scare the witches—people say.

The little elves now dance no more,
Nor sing in Manx their midnight song
Among the flow’rets at the door,
And home to fairy-land are gone.

But these are now things of the past,
For witch alike and elf are flown,
From all the hills, save Crank Glenchass—
‘Tis said they claim that as their own.

Note. —The Bwillogh is the Caltha palustris, and a grand Manx fairy flower. The Trammon, or elder tree, is dear to the Manx elves and fairies. The Rowan Tree, or mountain ash, plays an important part in the celebration of May Eve and its berries, when placed on cow byres, and tied in the tails of cows, or hung over the threshold of the house, or worn by the milk-maids and fastened to the pails and milk vats, etc., acted as powerful agencies against witchcraft and evil spirits and their dark work. Cronk Glenchass, or the dry glen, was and still is supposed to be a favourite haunt of the Manx fairies, and I have a large collection of stories and legends referring to it.

C. Roeder’s Manx Notes, 1904.

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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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