|By River Calder
|West Riding of Yorkshire
|May Games with dancers and fiddlers; George a Greene.
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-07. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.
Richard Braithwaite in his Strappado for the Diuell mentions May games at Wakefield. Born in Kendall (Cumberland) and educated at Oxford, he may not have known much about Wakefield, and it is possible he invented these annual May games and dances "vpon Wakefield greene" as a punning allusion to George à Greene, the Pinder of Wakefield. On the other hand, he may have had first or second hand knowledge of such festival traditions in Wakefield.
"But hast my Muse in colours to display,
Some auncient customes in their high roade way,
By which thy louing Countrey men doe passe,
Conferring that now is, with which once was, [p. 203:]
At least such places labour to make knowne,
As former times haue honour'd with renowne.
So by thy true relation 't may appeare
They are no others now, then as they were,
Euer esteem'd by auntient times records,
Which shall be shadow'd briefly in few words.
The first whereof that I intend to show,
Is merry Wakefield and her Pindar too;
Which Fame hath blaz'd with all that did belong,
Vnto that Towne in many gladsome song:
The Pindars valour and how firme he stood,
In th' Townes defence 'gainst th' Rebel Robin-hood,
How stoutly he behav'd himfelfe, and would,
In spite of Robin bring his horse to th' fold,
His many May games which were to be seene,
Yeerely presented vpon Wakefield greene,
Where louely Iugge and lustie Tib would go,
To see Tom-liuely turne vpon the toe;
Hob, Lob, and Crowde the fidler would be there,
And many more I will not speake of here:
Good god how glad hath been this hart of mine
To see that Towne, which hath in former time,
So florish'd and so gloried in her name,
Famous by th' Pindar who first rais'd the same?
Yea I haue paced ore that greene and ore,
And th' more I saw't, I tooke delight the more,
"For where we take contentment in a place,
"A whole daies walke, seemes as a cinquepace:
Yet as there is no solace vpon earth,
Which is attended euermore with mirth: [p. 204]
But when we are transported most with gladnesse,
Then suddenly our ioyes reduc'd to sadnesse,
So far'd with me to see the Pindar gone,
And of those iolly laddes that were, not one
Left to suruiue: I griev'd more then Ile fay,
Lists and gazetteers
- Outside scope of Lancashire, Ian, compil. Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: a Chronological Topography to 1558 (Cambridge, 1984).
- Outside scope of Wiles, David. The Early Plays of Robin Hood (Cambridge, 1981), Appendix I.