Esperance Morris Book vol 2 - online book

A Manual Of Morris Dances Folk-songs And Singing Games With Sheet Music And Instructions

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(XIV)
I was told of a seaman's rest where every week the men sang the old shanties on a specially rigged-up mast and rigging on the platform. Eventually I visited a boat in the harbour and made friends with the " bo'snn," a noted singer. Then I wrote to Mr. Carey, who met this boat on its arrival in the London docks, and got from the bo'sun the beautiful shantie " Shenandoah," one which has almost disappeared, but which has, I think, persisted in a shadowy way for so long owing to the haunting beauty of the melody.
Meanwhile the movement in England grows apace. An experiment is being made of starting classes directly under the management of the Guild in the big manu­facturing centres, and at the first centre, in Manchester, 162 pupils have joined a class in the first week. Leeds is following suit, and before long I hope to establish many
centres in direct communication with our centre in London.
The summer school, which was organised last year by the Guild at Littlehampton and at Stratford-on-Avon, will be held next year at Easter at Littlehampton, and during the month of August at seaside and other pleasure resorts as occasion arises. The success of our Manchester school promises well for any summer arrangements we may make. I am arranging to lecture in various towns with a view to organising classes and generally spreading the movement for the enjoyment of folk-songs and folk-dance by the people, to whom the folk-music legitimately belongs. All particulars of the meetings at Crosby Hall, classes in London and the provinces, teachers sent out, lectures, music, concerts, etc., can be had from me at 50 Cumberland Market, London, N.W.
MARY NEAL, Hon. Sec. Esperance Guild of Morris Dancers.
London, November, 1911.
ENGLAND-TO-BE.
THE ESPERANCE GUILD OF NATIONAL JOY.
By PHILIP MACER-WRIGHT.
The Utopian, the man or woman whose faith and optimisim are proof against the ills which flesh is heir to, who dreams the impossible dream (and lo! it comes true)—the Utopian is a great believer in village greens and in the maypole. England is to be less stiff and less self-conscious. She is to dance and sing from pure lightness of heart and in the open air, upon green grass, and beneath the blue sky. The Utopians, in their vision of a future England, always see lithe young men and graceful sunburnt girls footing it upon the turf, and bands of merry children playing games which are actually childlike and simple!
Should this dream ever be fulfilled (or, rather, when this dream is fulfilled) England will have turned for the liturgy of her revels not to the imaginings of contemporary specialists, but to the accumulated folk-lore of her ancient sons and daughters, some of whom are of this generation. " Traditional " is the word. The expression of national joy in the Utopian England is to be traditional, a per­petual link with Earth-children all down the centuries.
And thus it is that there are enthusiastic people now living who spend all their energy, and bestow all their time and lavish all their love upon the revival of traditional
dances, traditional songs, and traditional children's games. They labour for time-present right enough, but (dear souls!) their life is one brightly coloured dream of the day God holds in His hand for the children of our children's children. It is their destiny to prepare England for that day.
There is a Guild which exists for no other reason than to rehabilitate and hand down that pastoral and only true medium for rejoicing which the fever of industrialism nearly killed for ever. If you are of a strangely hopeful disposition and are one of those who manage to sit tight somehow when learned people of high foreheads and over­hanging brows talk of the decay of the race, the ultimate annihilation of Europe, and things like that—it is probable that you take a hand yourself in the work of this Guild ; if you are a pessimist, or a misanthrope, or one given to beholding gloomy pictures of future desolation, it might be well for you to buy a ticket when next you see, by any chance, the announcement of a Guild display.
The young men and young women and small children of the Guild travel much about the country, and all over England youth is dancing as they have taught it to dance, but they may be tracked down occasionally to such places
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