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Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The mother of them all, the Virgin Mary, was celebrated for centuries as the Queen of May, and in “The May Magnificat” Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds us that “May is Mary’s month,” and asks why. “All things rising,” he answers, “all things sizing / Mary sees, sympathizing / with that world of good, / Nature’s motherhood.” May’s meanings can get to be too much, though. 

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May is blooming and fertile, spring in its full flower. Unlike the storms of March and the “uncertain glory” of April, Shakespeare’s May, with its “darling buds,” is always sweet, and ever the month for love.

Traditionally—before the international labor movement claimed May 1s...

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Janet Hobhouse

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When the mother in The Furies, Janet Hobhouse’s fictional memoir of a life caught up in isolated family dependence, chooses Memorial Day to end her own life, her daughter mournfully riffs on May in an overdetermined frenzy of meaning: “month of mothers, month of Mary, month of heroes, the beg...

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It’s on a May Day that Thomas Hardy, always attuned to ancient rites, introduces Tess Durbeyfield, whose “bouncing handsome womanliness” among the country girls “under whose bodices the life throbbed quick and warm” still reveals flashes of the child she recently was.

May has ...

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Elizabeth Barrett

Elizabeth Barrett

The “may” in “May” had another meaning for Elizabeth Barrett, who wrote to Robert Browning from her invalid’s bed during the “implacable weather” of March that “April is coming. There will be both a May & a June if we live to see such things, & perhaps, after all, we may.” 

She...

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  1. Try starting a phrase with “I am” followed by an adjective and repeat slowly, as a set of three. Ex: “I am at peace”.
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