The Merry Maidens

I haven’t managed to put much on here during June. The reason is that I am idle, but there is also a bit of an excuse, as I am for the moment a Post-Referendum News Junkie and I don’t have time for anything but the News. Perhaps I should write something about the Referendum Result…Probably not.

I attended the ceremony of the Blessing of the Fisheries on Sunday. Felt I should have written something about fish or fishermen (fishing people) but was too idle to do that either. I did however come up with this while I was in the Lime Bar.


I wish I wish I wish

I’d written a poem about fish.

The difficulty I had was

Finding a rhyme-word for haddock.




The Merry Maidens is a neolithic stone circle near the village of St Buryan in Cornwall. The local myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. I don’t know if they do that kind of thing any more, but I am sure that young women get into trouble in all sorts of ways when they go out dancing. Young men, too. I am indebted to Lavinia Greenlaw’s The Importance of Music to Girls for some of the ideas in this.

Thirteen girls allowed out late

To dance to Donny Osmond.

With shiny lips, mascara’d eyes,

They weren’t out looking for a boy;

Girls dancing in a circle was their joy.

     And dancing, giggling, swooning, crying, screaming,

     They lived a while the heaven they’d been dreaming.

But innocence is wicked in the law.

They didn’t understand it wasn’t funny

To enter by the idol-worshipper’s door-

Were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.

     Fourteen girls in the summer of love

     Spaced-out to Procul Harum;

     Embroidered skirts and waist-long hair

     A bindi like a primal yes;

     A boyfriend’s fingers dancing on their flesh.

          And sighing, hugging, smiling, twining, beaming,

          They lived a while the freedom they’d been dreaming.

     But liberty is sinful in the law

     And just as they were waiting on the runway

     They heard an unforgiving angry roar-

     Were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.

Fifteen girls who went out west

To dance to David Bowie

With glitter on their cheeks and hair,

Rock-chick pants and silver boots.

They looked like they could kill you with a stare.

     And clasping, crying, stumbling, flying, gleaming

     They lived a while on planets they’d been dreaming.

But experiment is anathema in the law.

They thought that they were tasting of the honey

But found it sticking in their frozen craw-

Were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.

     Sixteen girls in Camden Town

     Dancing to Johnny Rotten;

     Their blonde spikes tipped with candy pink;

     Bin-liner dress, torn fishnet tights,

     Spike-heeled boots and pints of snakebite.

          And stamping, spitting, smoking, fainting, bleeding

          They lived a while the danger they’d been dreaming.

     But anarchy was vicious to the law.

     They knew that they were on the edge of hungry

     And spending more than they could ever draw-

     Were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.

I don’t know what they dance to now;

But dance they do, with joy and wonder.

The stones have long since filled the field

And the lawmakers lie under.


Yt is the fumer folstyce of the yeare,

Ye time of fairys, love and special cheere;

Ye hours of lighte no less than feventeen

Between the sonné’s rising and it’s set

(Atte 10:34. {10:34!})

And yet it feems that inn ye houres betweene

We are to fee no sonne. I make a bette

We wille see onlie rayne these houres and more.

And so my hertys hevy to comforte.

Natur bids me rys up and difporte

And take the holsome, lusty eyre;

But alle I want, as reyne comes poring downe,

Is to be dry, e’en if it means my luste be dry;

To have dry clothes and feet, and have dry hayre.

My sekenes over this doth mayk me frowne,

Giv up ye fumer folsice with a figh.


Later- okay; it has stopped raining and the sun has appeared, so I shall stop moaning. Too late, however, to go out and find my nearest stone circle and dance naked around it…