Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Winter is Icumen In

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

 Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM!

Ezra Pound's 1915 poem Ancient Music parodies Sumer Is Icumen In, the oldest (circa 1260) known English song to which we have both the words and music.

But of course, as one might expect, it's much more than a simple parody. It satirizes the modern world and modernity as well by setting up a series of implied contrasts with the original: ancient/modern, summer/winter, natural/urban, joy/discomfort. Likewise, it critiques modernity by contrasting the natural world's universality with the hyper-individuality (if not narcissism) of the modern urban dweller.

And to those of us in the Northern hemisphere just now beginning to deal with Winter and its discomforts, it tells yet another truth.

The distastefulness of his political views notwithstanding—he was both a Fascist and an anti-Semite—Pound was also an early modern pagan: the Goddess is a constant, inspiring presence in his poetry and thought.

So add another page to the songbook: Ancient Music is one for the ages. Best of all, you can sing it to the original tune.

So everybody, now: one, two, three, and....















Last modified on
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Thursday, 07 December 2017

    Too funny, Thanks for sharing! Tasha

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