“Now is the Month of Maying” is one of the most famous of the English balletts, by Thomas Morley published in 1595. The song delights in bawdy double-entendre. It is apparently about spring dancing, but this is a metaphor for sexual activity. For example, a "barley-break" would have suggested outdoor sexual activity (rather like we might say a "roll in the hay"). The use of such imagery and puns increased during the Renaissance. The madrigal forms a key part of Oxford's May Morning celebrations, where the choir of Magdalen College sing the verses from the roof of the college's Great Tower.

 

Now is the month of maying,

When merry lads are playing,

Fa la la la la la la la la,

Fa la la la la la lah.

Each with his bonny lass

Upon the greeny grass.

Fa la la, etc...

 

The Spring, clad all in gladness,

Doth laugh at Winter's sadness,

Fa la la, etc...

And to the bagpipe's sound

The nymphs tread out their ground.

Fa la la, etc...

 

Fie then! why sit we musing,

Youth's sweet delight refusing?

Fa la la, etc...

Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,

Shall we play barley-break?

Fa la la etc...