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Maying Song

[trad. Flemish, English translation Ruth Harvey]

Schoon lief, hoe ligt gij hier is a traditional Flemish song. The Belgian band Rum sang it in 1974 on their Philips album Rum.2. Michael Raven printed their version in his 1977 book Folk Songs of the Low Countries. He also included an English translation by Ruth Harvey with the title Maying Song.

Bread and Roses sang Maying Song in 1988 on their eponymous Dragon album Bread and Roses. They noted:

Laddie Lie Near Me hold out a happier promise of requited love, as does the Flemish Maying Song, which we follow here with [the] French tune De delai lou ribotel.

Sue Brown and Lorraine Irwing sang the Maying Song in 1997 on their WildGoose album Call & Cry. They noted:

A song of unsuccessful courtship, in which the girl being wooed tells her suitor in no uncertain terms to ‘plant his may’ elsewhere. We heard this translation of a Flemish carol on an album by Bread and Roses.

Bella Hardy sang the Maying Song in 2007 on her first album, Night Visiting. This track was also included on her 2019 anthology Postcards & Pocketbooks. This video shows her at the Gosport and Fareham Festival at Easter 2008:


Schoon lief, hoe ligt gij hier

Schoon lief, hoe ligt gij hier en slaapt
In uwen eersten drome?
Wilt opstaan en den mei ontvaan:
Hij Staat hier alzo schone.

Ik zou voor genen mei opstaan,
Mijn vensterken niet ontsluiten:
Plant uwen mei, waar ’t u gerei:
Plant uwen mei daarbuiten.

Waar zou ’k hem planten of waar doen?
’t is al op ’s Heren strate:
De winternacht is koud en lang,
Hij zou zijn bloeien laten.

Schoon lief, laat hij zijn bloeien staan,
Wij zullen hem begraven
Op ’t kerkhof bij den eglantier
Zijn graf zal roosjes dragen.

Schoon lief, en om die rozekens
Zal ’t nachtegaaltjen springen,
En voor ons bei in elken Mei
Zijn zoete liedjens zingen.

Sue Brown and Lorraine Irwing sing Maying Song

Arise dear love, shake off your dream
This May morning so early;
Accept, I pray, this tree of May
That stands here flowering rarely.

My window I shall not unbar,
Nor rise the May to greet, sir;
Go plant your May where’ere you please,
Go plant it in the street, sir.

But if all on the Lord’s highway
I set it up to flourish,
This winter’s night is cold and long,
Its tender flowers they may perish.

And if they die, dear love, the tree
To churchyard shall be carried,
And laid beneath a briar rose,
Shall blossom where it’s buried.

And on the briar a nightingale
Shall sit and sing so clear, love;
She’ll sing for us her sweetest song
As May comes round each year, love.