Tuesday, 2 March 2021

March Country Days and Country Ways 2nd

 My first day of the month post is a day late - better late than never!

Below are two pages from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden

 In the Roman calendar March,or Martius, was the first month of a new year. The month was named after Mars, the god of war and the guardian of agriculture. March was the month when both farming and warfare could begin again after winter.

The Saxons called it Hlydmonath meaning loud month for the windy weather or Lentmonath, meaning lengthening month, because of the equinox and lengthening of days and this is the origin of the word Lent.

There are many weather sayings,  the best known is

March winds and April showers
Bring forth May flowers.
One of the old weather says in the diary above says
March'll search ye
April'll try ye
May'll tell whether live or die ye

So I guess if we all get to May we''ll know we are OK !

I found one poem in my little book of Country Poems that mentions crows in the winds of March
The Crow

How peaceable it seems for lonely men
To see the crow fly in the thin blue sky
Over the  woods and fields, o'er level fen
It speaks of villages or cottage nigh
Behind the neighbouring woods- when March winds high
Tear off the branches of the huge old oak.
I love to see these chimney-sweeps sail by
And hear them o'er the gnarled forest croak,
Then sosh askew from the hid woodman's stroke
That in the woods their daily labours ply.
I love the sooty crow, nor would provoke
Its March day exercise of croaking joy;
I love to see it sailing to and fro
While fields, and wood and waters spread below.
John Clare (1793-1864)

(My Shorter Oxford Dictionaries are packed in a box so I can't look to see if there is a definition of sosh!) 
Back Tomorrow


  1. March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. I tried to find a definition of sosh, but my Concise Oxford Dictionary didn't have it and Dr Google just had a) a Co-op (Scottish) b) social or c) social security number. None of those seem to fit! As I read it I can imagine their startled flight, so that's what I'm going with! xx

  2. I have a lot of time for John Clare. I can't find Sosh in my shorter OED nor my big Collins. I suspect it is a dialect term or even one of Clare's own which he is sometimes prone to do.

  3. Having ahd a quick look at some teaching notes for Clare, it seems that sosh means to plunge suddenly - although to suddenly take flight seems more appropriate :)

  4. We love your blogs with glimpses of lore. Imagine keeping a diary as beautifully scripted and illustrated as that (she clearly didn't have a lot else to do!) The only rhyme we know about crows is for sowing beans - one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow. (i.e. sow 4x as many as you need), but we love crows dearly and miss the crows that visited our garden in UK. We counted them among our friends.

  5. Sosh caught my eye too, but I can't find anything appropriate either. It can't possibly be one of the slang definitions, far too early anyway. Is it possible he made it up for effect? It's a lovely poem, whatever the meaning, or purpose, of sosh.

  6. John Clare was an in-patient of the psychiatric hospital where I used to work. He could have written that poem at the time as there was a large forest within the many acres of grounds. I saw many a squirrel scampering about on my way to work.

  7. What a lovely post. The only thing I could find on “sosh” was. “ A dip when in flight.” The source was a Northamptonshire archaic dictionary. I tried to copy and paste but it didn’t work.


    1. The psychiatric hospital was in Northamptonshire.

  8. Google comes up with sosh being an abbreviation of socialite, can't find it in the concise Oxford.

  9. Google has it's advantages and it's limitations while our books are packed away in boxes doesn't it. You don't realise how much you rely on the books being on the shelves until they're not!! The next couple of months are going to be difficult for you, but oh think of the pleasure of unpacking all your treasures once you're settled 😃

  10. I was looking forward to see your blog today, it is always so interesting to see what you have found about the new month:)

  11. On the sosh in Norfolk means not straight, leaning; askew in fact.

  12. I always love your first of the month posts and I enjoyed the John Clare poem. It's good for us to remember the old ways.

  13. March can be so varied weatherwise - my sister married on March 24th 2012 we attended wrapped up and ready for cold weather and it was a gloriously sunny day, we sat outside sipping Champagne - one year later on the same date it was deep snow and we would not have even got to the venue!

  14. I love the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I believe that the 1st March was supposed to herald the return of the fleas....as ever sorry I have lowered the tone! Arilx

  15. Our March has come in like a lamb, and we are bound to have another snow before the end of the month. It always happens that way.

    God bless.

  16. I love this -- and all the wonderful quotes/expressions and the beautiful poem. Happy March, Sue.