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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Revels at Merry Mount

By Thomas Morton (1575–1646)

[From New English Canaan. 1632.]

THE INHABITANTS of Pasonagessit (having translated the name of their inhabitation from that ancient savage name to Ma-re Mount; and being resolved to have the new name confirmed for a memorial to after ages) did devise amongst themselves to have it performed in a solemn manner with revels and merriment after the old English custom, prepared to set up a May-pole upon the festival day of Philip and Jacob; and therefore brewed a barrel of excellent beer, and provided a case of bottles to be spent, with other good cheer, for all comers of that day. And because they would have it in a complete form, they had prepared a song fitting to the time and present occasion. And upon May-day they brought the May-pole to the place appointed, with drums, guns, pistols, and other fitting instruments, for that purpose; and there erected it with the help of savages, that came thither of purpose to see the manner of our revels. A goodly pine tree of eighty feet long, was reared up, with a pair of buck’s horns nailed on, somewhat near unto the top of it: where it stood as a fair sea-mark for directions how to find out the way to mine host of Ma-re Mount.

The setting up of his May-pole was a lamentable spectacle to the precise Separatists that lived at New Plymouth. They termed it an idol; yea, they called it the Calf of Horeb: and stood at defiance with the place, naming it Mount Dagon; threatening to make it a woful mount, and not a merry mount.

There was likewise a merry song made, which (to make their revels more fashionable) was sung with a corus, every man bearing his part; which they performed in a dance, hand in hand about the May-pole, whilst one of the company sung, and filled out the good liquor like Gammedes and Jupiter.

  • Drink and be merry, merry, merry, boys;
  • Let all your delight be in Hymen’s joys.
  • Io to Hymen now the day is come,
  • About the merry May-pole take a room.
  • Make green garlons, bring bottles out;
  • And fill sweet Nectar, freely about;
  • Uncover thy head, and fear no harm,
  • For here ’s good liquor to keep it warm.
  • Then drink and be merry, etc.
  • Io to Hymen, etc.
  • Nectar is a thing assign’d,
  • By the Deity’s own mind,
  • To cure the heart opprest with grief,
  • And of good liquors is the chief.
  • Then drink, etc.
  • Io to Hymen, etc.
  • Give to the melancholy man
  • A cup or two of ’t now and then;
  • This physic will soon revive his blood,
  • And make him be of a merrier mood.
  • Then drink, etc.
  • Io to Hymen, etc.
  • Give to the nymph that ’s free from scorn,
  • No Irish stuff nor Scotch overworn.
  • Lasses in beaver coats, come away;
  • Ye shall be welcome to us night and day
  • To drink and be merry, etc.
  • Io to Hymen, etc.
  • This harmless mirth made by young men (that lived in hope to have wives brought over to them, that would save them a labor to make a voyage to fetch any over) was much distasted of the precise Separatists that keep much ado, about the tithe of mint and cumin, troubling their brains more than reason would require about things that are indifferent: and from that time sought occasion against my honest host of Ma-re Mount to overthrow his undertakings, and to destroy his plantation quite and clean.