How the blog works

The poems on this blog are mostly written on the basis of my historical reading and are intended to be both educational and entertaining.
Recently I have also begun posting some of my work with Anglo-Saxon charms. This work is somewhat speculative and is conducted as an amateur researcher and keen Pagan historian.

Please feel free to use anything on this site as a resource if you think that it may be relevant to your needs.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Mowing Feast

The poem is set in Anglo-Saxon England and is based on the right of feasting after mowing a meadow on the lord's land. This was one of the eight major feasts and was in return for a days labour given in duty.
The method of mowing a field did not change significantly until the invention of modern agriculture.

The lines have been divided in two by a central comma creating sets of five syllables, this is intended to be expressed in the reading to match the rhythm of the scythe.

Mowing Feast
Æfterra Litha, first summer hay cut,
With a well honed scythe, holding the long butt.
Misty sunny morn, blade peened flat and true,
Trudging to meadow, early morning dew.

Sweet meadows of grass, poppies and corn flowers,
Sweep blade to the left, those long fragrant hours.
Tall lady's bedstraw, and meadow foxtail,
Seeds drop into sward, sweet sent to inhale.

Gathering of folk, working side by side,
In blistering heat, of mid-summer tide.
The rhythm of scythe, long furlong to mow,
Hay drops to the left, forming long windrow.

Wipe sweat from thy brow, our thirst is relieved,
Ale cup bearing boys, are greatly received.
Everyone gathered, beneath the elm tree,
Sat down on soft hay, and slacked thirst with glee.

Short break back to work, till acre is mown,
With wet stone to hand, the long blade to hone.
In Litha's warm wind, tall corn cockles sway,
Buttercups tumble, as bees fly away.

Once thine Lords hard work, is out of the way,
The feasting begins, at end of the day.
Wifmen serve thick slices, of buttered warm bread,
Ale cup bearing boys, return for the spread.

Music and feasting, merriment and ale,
A roll in the hay, and jugs of wassail.
A basket of fruit, pies cakes and delights,
This feast in the hay, is one of our rights.

Our Nerthus's gift, is hay for the beasts,
And mowing the field, gives one of our feasts.
Children frolic laugh, and jump in the hay,
Tomorrow's mowing, is another day.

Copyright Andrew Rea Heilig Monath 2016

Æfterra Litha (OE) = July
To peen = to hammer the edge of a blade true
sward = the cut grassy ground or upper layer of earth
windrow = a line of cut hay
Litha (OE)= Summer Solstice

Wifmen (OE) = women (compare 'weapon men' = men)
Nerthus (OE) = Earth Goddess, pre dates Frigg (mentioned by Bede)

furlong = the length of a field (220yards)

In 'The labours of the months' July (Æfterra Litha) shows hay being cut with scythes.
The poem was also inspired by the end scene of 'A Day In The Hayfields 1904' showing children playing in the hay (ignore the modern machinery):

For traditional hay making see 'How to Make Hay with a Scythe':

For a variation in procedure see also 'Hay In A Day':