Spring Equinox – A Fragile Balance

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My latest seasonal blog post for Dun Brython – on the Spring Equinox, spring migrants, spring myths and the imbalance of the equinoxes in the anthropocene.

Dun Brython

There is surprisingly little written about how the Spring Equinox was celebrated in Brythonic tradition. However, we can presume earlier inhabitants of Britain were aware of the equal length of day and night, blackthorn blossom, celandine sparkling beside streams and frogspawn pooling in ponds.

They would also have noticed birds nesting and the return of spring migrants. The cuckoo, ‘the Harbinger of Spring’, traditionally returns to the West Riding of Yorkshire on the 21st of March. Its arrival in March is also recorded in this jingle from Devon:

‘In March the guku beginth to sarch;
In Aperal, he beginth to tell;
In May, he beginth to lay;
In June, he alterth ‘is tune;
In July away a dith vly.’

I’ve never had the privilege of hearing a cuckoo. In Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo, Michael McCarthy records its decline amongst other ‘spring-bringers’ including swifts, yellow wagtails, pied flycatchers, spotted…

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2 thoughts on “Spring Equinox – A Fragile Balance

  1. There’s a traditional version of the song “The Cuckoo”, which uses the rhyme “Cuckoo in April, Cuckoo in May, Cuckoo in June, In July fly away” which is similar to your Devonian verse, as the chorus. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGoYfU2-A54) I’m not sure where this version of the song originates (there are hundreds of versions that use many of the same verses) although I’ve only heard it sung “live” in Devon (but then I don’t get out much!!.)

  2. Thank you, Gwion. I hadn’t heard of ‘The Cuckoo’ folk song before. Interesting that the cuckoo’s behaviour has been linked to cuckoo-like behaviour in human relationships!

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