The Cuckoo – Song and Rhyme

Paul Simon’s song April Come She Will seems to be loosely based around the rhyme The Cuckoo and an English ballad called Cuckoo Song.  You can read both below…

The Cuckooimage

In April,
Come he will.
In May,
He sings all day.
In June,
He changes his tune.
In July,
He prepares to fly.
In August,
Go he must.

The Cuckoo Song can be found in Ballads and Lyrics (1891) by Katharine Tynan.

Cuckoo Song

Cuckoo, cuckoo!

In April skies were blue

As every hedgerow knew;

And there was you.

In April

The cuckoo shows his bill,

With windflowers on vale and hill.

O, Love!

Sweet was April, sweet was April!


Cuckoo, cuckoo!

In May his song was true,

And the world was new

For me and you.

In May

He sings all day,

All the long night that’s sweet with hay.

O, Love!

Blithe was the May, blithe was the May!


Cuckoo, cuckoo!

Last June the roses grew

In many a place we knew,

I and you.

In June

He changes his tune.

A young man’s fancy changes soon.

O, Love!
Fleet was June, fleet was June!


Cuckoo, cuckoo!
His notes are faint and few,
The lily is dying too,
For the rose there is rue.
In July

Away will he fly,

His notes blown back from an empty sky.

O, Love!
Sad was July, sad was July!


Cuckoo, cuckoo!
No more we listen to
The merry song we knew,
I and you.
In August
Go he must,

Love and lovers will turn to dust.

O, Love!
Cold is August, cold is August!

This article was posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012 at 11:51 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Nursery Rhymes, Folk Songs, Languages, Music, Nursery Rhymes, Paul Simon, Traditional Music, Traditional Songs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “The Cuckoo – Song and Rhyme”

  1. Tinker Jack Says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I bought a nursery rhyme CD a couple of years ago and this verse was also recited in the Andrew Lang version. I did not know it is so sad. We learned it together and were thinking about happiness.

    Have you heard that beautiful final song from Shakespeare Love’s Labour’s Lost, whose refrain goes like this:
    The cuckoo, then, on every tree, / Mocks married men, for thus sings he, Cuckoo, / Cuckoo, Cuckoo: O, word of fear, / Unpleasing to a married ear!”
    OK. Let’s be optimistic…Simsaladim, Bamba, saladuu, saladiim.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Hi Tinker Jack,

    Nice to hear from you!

    A cuckold in English is someone who’s wife is cheating on them… it comes from the cuckoo bird that tricks other birds into caring for its eggs. So that’s the reference Shakespeare is making.

    Thanks for pointing out Simsaladim, Bamba, saladuu, saladiim. For anyone who’s not familiar with it, it’s the German song Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck saß (A Cuckoo Sat on a Tree). In that song the cuckoo is killed but it comes back to life the following year and everybody’s happy! It’s always good to end on a cheerful note!

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