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REVELS AT MERRYMOUNT TODAY
Generations of neighbors near the believed site (Maypole Hill) of Thomas Morton’s Ma-Re Mount have long been used to the activities, ceremonies and honors held there, in some fashion, almost every year. The historical marker-stone in this photo dates from the early 1900s and actually commemorates the fall of an enormous tree in a late 1800s windstorm, the tree pictured in turn on today’s Quincy City Seal. The stone’s lower portion mentions that “Nearby was the site of the Maypole” raised by Morton’s company here in May 1627.
Wollaston Beach, named for Morton’s ship-captain, is a
beautiful stretch of coast that shines through the Merrymount trees, where open
lands and herons in the estuaries look on the Boston Bay islands. Sir
Christopher Gardiner spent 1620s time in the area, and so did Anne Hutchinson
before she was banished. Soon a man named Henry Adams with nine sons purchased
the lands around Maypole Hill, and the rest has been United States
Through the 1960s-1980s, groups such as The Thomas Morton Alliance and Barley Moon brought together many like kinds of people in celebrations here. The Merrymount Messenger was an international scholarly/political journal for years thanks to editor Bill Bowers.
New “May Delights” have bloomed over the last 10 years in this very friendly neighborhood. Quincy Parks Department has been cooperative, generous and pleased with the good goings-on, which promise to keep growing.
Time is on Merrymount’s side, although historical markers and signs still reflect misunderstandings. As America’s first poet in English and his first-generation’s most accomplished ethnologist, naturalist and author, Morton should have as many Quincy visitors as the Adams.
Someday Quincy will raise a new permanent Maypole in
nearby larger Merrymount Park --- and make Revels what they always were, a
Spring Celebration for raising the spirits on every level of community life.
“The Order of May Day” is Merriment & Cooperative Good Cheer!
Watch some of the Revels held in May 2002!
Chief One Bear & The Order for the Preservation of Indian Culture
Native New England Drum The Wolf Tail Singers
Traditional English Music by Urban Myth & The
Village Circle Band
(Nouri Newman, Jessica Lupien, Vitaly Kakuta, Cathy Reuben, Melike Fitzhugh, Gayle McKennon, Deb Lempke, John Schumlan & Frank Jones)
Matchlock gun salute by Charles Schifferdecker, John
Karl Tritt and William Gates
Most lately in 2008 and 2009, Merrymount has been honored to welcome new festivals of music, dance, poetry and performance --- thanks to enthusiasts such as Lynn Noel, Phill Nimeskern, Chris Pahud, The Paper Bag Mummers, Maypole-designer Cammy Kaynor, and Morris Troupes including The Red Herring Dancers.
These Troupes dance through the city of Quincy as part of May Day celebrations, and perform at their “Stands” at different locations until they gather in a Mass Stand at Maypole Hill --- and up goes the Maypole! You can see much more of their first-rate music and Morris Dancing --- including an actual Hand-Fasting Ceremony ---in clips they have posted at YouTube.
Don’t Miss the Next Revels at Merrymount, Growing Every Year!
Pictures from Revels 381, & Film Clips from Revels 382:
--- From Ben Jonson’s masque Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue (1618) ---
It follows, now, you are to prove
The subtlest maze of all --- that’s Love.
Go, in Peace and Beauty. And with a mind
as gentle as the stroking wind runs o’er the gentle flowers.
And so let all your actions smile
As if they meant not to beguile the courtiers, but the hours.
Grace, Laughter and Courtesy may meet, and yet the Beauty’s not worth less ---
For what is noble should be sweet; but not dissolved in wantonness.
Will you, that I give the law to all your sport, and sum it?
It should be such should envy draw, and ever overcome it.
Virtue, She it is in darkness shines;
and She in You Herself refines.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
Get Yer Revels On, New England!
Governor Deval Patrick Makes It Official:
May First is Henceforth THOMAS MORTON DAY in Massachusetts!
How To Make Revels Happen in Your Community
This website presents many film-clips of how we at Maypole Hill in Quincy, Massachusetts, have begun to bring Revels back into our American lives. Although you'll probably start as we did on a shoestring budget, there's no doubt that your own community is overflowing with all the talents of life that Revels celebrate. It might be accurate to describe the core spirit of Revels as a competition in generosity---people and communities in a genial rivalry to see who can give away (and so, gain) the most from their overflow of strengths and riches.
In Old England, Revels were and did many things at once. Fundamentally, they gave thanks to Nature for the jubilant return of all the powers and creatures around us that give us life, and made civic gestures of gratitude, respect and celebration. In your community, everybody has a role to play in that first concern---and people from business to artists and school-students can decide on how to express it. In the old days, "Crop Rogation" meant opening the Revels with a dignified but jubilant march or procession around the local fields, with shared prayers to be free of old "sins" and animosities in the New Year. Sometimes these ceremonies included bonfires, and people both alone and in pairs jumped over them as a way of acting out these "purifications." Many Native peoples' methods included the sweat lodge.
On that basis (a healthy physical and spiritual relationship to Nature's cycles---and a positive attitude for Spring!), people then raised a Maypole together. Public officials and Revels-elected "Masters" presided over everybody's welcome to the proceedings. In the analogous forms of Native American gatherings, sometimes called a pow-wow, this would be what Native peoples call Grand Entry. Then came prayers and speeches both official and good-humored---and with music and round-dances, the Revels had begun.
Some were a single-day affair, and others lasted about a week, with each day showcasing (and so, connecting and enabling) different strengths of the community. There was no limit to the kinds of businesses that got involved, each with a green-bowered "booth" around the Maypole on the fairgrounds or public common---farmers, craftsmen, local merchants, importers/exporters, artists, charities, all these and more had their interests to advance while they added something to the circle and the feast. Whose contributions were fetching the most attention? Meanwhile, something was always going on at center-stage---dance, music, theater, teaching, children's performances, the works. In pow-wow traditions, there were also talking-circles in which everybody got a non-judgmental hearing and listening-to. (And as Slow Turtle said, without regard to their age!). Sometimes in Europe, officials and aristocrats had to grin and bear it while people unleashed them an earful, with a Spring Revels' license to speak with a healthy frank freedom.
Agree on a day, a year in advance. Choose your site and pursue your permits. Start talking about a Spring Revels with the people around you with whom you do not "normally" engage, because your community is richer and readier than you realize. Every "small" and "separate" contribution, from logistics to performance, that you can rouse from your community---a publicity poster from an artist, a bit of help with the Mayor's office, even a cheaper rental rate from a Port-o-John company---converges before your eyes on May Day into an event of celebration, whose many sides enable and encourage every other to a next "good year."
Imagine one huge community game of "Indian Football" as part of the program. The two goal-posts, half a mile apart, are hung with gifts of every kind. And everybody plays---little kids, teens, adults, senior citizens. When you get tired out, you rest and your grandmother goes in. What kinds of skills would you need (and grow) with a game like that---an ability to compete and do your best for the team, while hurting no one?
The beauty of a Maypole is that there is nothing "to believe in" about it. The Maypole became the American Liberty Pole---It is simply a social form or a "formula" (like The Constitution), around which each and every person finds a way to unleash their talents and to invest in their own futures by participating.
In Native American terms, the only proof of wealth is in giving it away. That's why the "winners" of the Football game win the right to give away all the gifts.
Get Yer Revels On!
Revels artist Lynn Noel (dulcimer) and Jack Dempsey (guitar) sing
"The Song" from Morton's 1627 Revels
at Quincy Historical Society, May 3, 2011
Dialogue with others
about these subjects.
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