Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Arrives With The Strawberry Moon

Around the world today people will have an opportunity to see an event that has occurred about thirty times in the last 2000 years. That event in the northern hemisphere is the summer solstice coinciding with a full moon. For residents of Atlanta the solstice occurs at 6:34 PM EDT. The Strawberry Moon will rise 9:00 PM as the sun sets on the opposite horizon. 

Summer solstice at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

The sun reaches its highest point in the sky today and it is the longest day of the year. Although the sun begins its descent tomorrow, insolation from our star will continue to raise atmospheric temperatures until late July. As this day marks the end of the season of renewal and the beginning of the season of growth and flower, I am reminded of this quote by D. H. Lawrence:

The greatest need of man is the renewal forever of the complete rhythm of life and death, the rhythm of the sun's year, the body's year.

There's plenty of interesting music for the day including this 13th century English round:

Middle English

Sumer is icumen in,

Lhude sing cuccu!

Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
Ne swik þu nauer nu.
Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

Modern English

Summer has arrived,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the stag farts,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing,
Don't ever you stop now,
Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!

Here is a tone poem, A Song of Summer, written some 700 years later by Frederick Delius as transcribed and arranged by Eric Fenby:

And finally, there is summer as the season of youth, the school break, the summer job, of free time and good friends, and for many what the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell called "friendship set to music."


Photos and Illustrations: