In Competition No. 3154 you were invited to supply your own variations on the medieval round ‘Sumer is icumen in’.
This six-part polyphony — the jaunty accompaniment to the ritual sacrifice of Edward Woodwood’s Christian copper in the horrific climax of The Wicker Man — is also known as the Summer Canon and dates from about 1300. Some contend that it contains the oldest example in written English of the word ‘fart’ (‘Bucke uerteth’ can be rendered as ‘the billy goat is farting’) though the correct translation has been the subject of scholarly squabbles.
This was a tricky challenge and you might have looked for inspiration to Ezra Pound, who wrote a well-known parody of the poem entitled ‘Ancient Music’:
“Winter is icummen in,Lhude sing Goddamm,Raineth drop and staineth slop.And how the wind doth ramm!
Those that made the cut, in a smallish, somewhat half-hearted but pleasingly varied entry, are printed below and earn £30 each. Commendations and commiserations go to unlucky losers Bill Greenwell, Katie Mallett, Chris O’Carroll, Michelle Werrett and Nick Syrett.
“Sumer is icumen inLhude wayle bu-hu —Futbal gonne, Wimble-donneHwæt the helle to doe?Sumer is a Cumynges sinne:
Unlyke we, the reste,Norþward driveð, soon arrivðEyen for to testeSumer is a non-evente
This year, alle shotte –Crikket cutten, pubbes shutten,Falleth pounde, detts abounde;At insystaunce, keepeð dystaunce —
Sodde the lotte, so blodi hwæt?Cuc-cu, Cuc-cu —Yea, Thu — Cucc-YuMike Morrison
“Sumer is i-cumen in,Lhude sing cuccu!Groweth croppe and bloweth toppe,For no man gathereth it oppe,And no man cometh therto do.Sing cuccu.Boris bleateth after deales chepe.
Meeting starteth, Brussels farteth,Boris seeketh markets newe.Trumpè tweeteth: screwè you!Boris flee-eth to Lorde Barnard’s Keepe.Not so murie nu!Owle singeth tu-wit-tu-wu,
Wel weepen we al, bu-hu!Hither come and say me trewe:Who is nu cuccu?Brian Murdoch
“Sunac is icumen inLhude sing Rishi!Dresseþ flashAnd bloweþ cashAnd shakeþ money treSing Rishi!Leader of þa sumer six
Locdoun haþ a keyBoris sickensCumings chiccensMerrie sing Rishi!Rishi! Rishi!
Wel singes ye Rishi!And set þam folces freeSing Rishi ye! Sing Rishi!
Sing Rishi! Sing Rishi ye!Nick MacKinnon
“Summer is y-cummen in,red-eyed at-TISH-oo,pollen count and dripping snout,annual déjà vu.Fresh air music, headache bass,
next door’s barbecue;clouds of smoke and beer-filled folk,crowd of loud yahoo.Summer mowing, metal din;
petrol-heads’ tattoo;oily smell, ear-splitting hell,grim hullaballoo.Summer has y-cum, with urge
for any other view;Barnard Castle worth the hassle?Loudly sing Cuckoo.D.A. Prince
“Sumer is icumen inSadly sigh boo hoo,Summer is a time for funBut not for me and you.Though there’s lots of lovely sunThere’s nothing much to do.Sigh boo hoo.Looks as though
In winter snowWe’ll still be dodging flu.We’ll be victimsOf restrictionsTill the year is through.Sigh boo hoo.Frank McDonald
No. 3157: glasto and glynders
Glastonbury and Glyndebourne have both fallen victim to Covid-19 this summer. To fill the gap you are invited to describe a visit to either in the style of an author of your choice. Please email up to 150 words/16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 8 July. NB. We are unable to accept postal entries for the time being.