Four Seasons of the Year, The
DESCRIPTION: "The spring is the quarter, the first that I'll mention, The fields and the meadows are covered with green." The singer catalogs the seasons: Spring (and Valentine's day), the busy summer, the hunting season of autumn, the chill winter, and repeat
EARLIEST DATE: before 1845 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(1253))
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South,West))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Williams-Thames, pp. 125-126, "The Four Seasons" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 73)
Leather, pp. 207-208, "Four Seasons of the Year" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-ECS, #128, "The Seasons" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST Leath207 (Partial)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(1253), "Four Seasons of the Year" ("Come all you lads and lasses awhile give attention"), J. Pitts (London), 1819-1844; also Harding B 16(98c), Firth b.34(113), "The Four Seasons"
NOTES: Several versions of this, including Palmer's, say that the birds pair off on Valentine's Day. This motif goes back at least to Chaucer's "The Parliament of Fowls." According to Chaucer/Benson, p. 383, "No one knows how 14 February became one of love's 'halyydayes,' for which Chaucer wrote 'many an ympne' (Pro[logue to the Legend of Good Women] 422). There is no basis for the old theory that he drew on some folk tradition, no association of love with Saint Valentine's Day in previous literature, and little in the saint's legend to suggest such an association."
Chaucer/Lynch, p. 105 note 8 (on line 309 of "The Parliament of Fowls") says, "Chaucer is often credited with having created Valentine's Day (the Oxford English Dictionary lists this line in the Parliament as the first reference. Various saints have been proposed as the honoree of this holiday, and it has been associated with both February 14, when it is currently celebrated, or alternatively with early May due to another reference to Valentine's Day in the Prologue to Chaucer's [unfinished] Legend of Good Women (145-146). The tradition that birds choose their mates on Valentine's Day is shared with the Legend of Good Women and a poem by Chaucer's contemporary Oton de Graunson...."
Chaucer/Brewer, p. 131, describes Oton de Grandson's [his spelling] Le Songe Saint Valentin, which also involves birds courting on Saint Valentine's Day, but it cannot be shown which poem came first, although Chaucer would eventually borrow from de Grandson for The Complaynt of Venus. Even if de Grandson is Chaucer's source, that doesn't push the idea appreciably earlier. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.7
- Chaucer/Benson: Larry D. Benson, general editor, The Riverside Chaucer, third edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1987 (based on F. N. Robinson, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which is considered to be the first and second editions of this work)
- Chaucer/Brewer: D. S. Brewer, editor, The Parlement of Foulys, 1960, 1972 (I use the 1990 Manchester University Press paperback)
- Chaucer/Lynch: Kathryn L. Lynch, editor, Geoffrey Chaucer: Dream Visions and Other Poems: A Norton Critical Edition, W. W. Norton, 2007
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