The musical Camelot is a cautionary tale about fulfilled wishes. King Arthur wants to establish a radical system of government based on equality and the rule of law, so temperate that the weather itself would willingly abide by certain restrictions ("Camelot"). Guenevere, irked by her arranged marriage, wants her beauty flattered and a great romantic love ("The Simple Joys of Maidenhood"). Lancelot seeks a level of purity so conspicuous that "he could easily work a miracle or two" ("C'est Moi").

Lancelot does work a heck of a miracle. He raises a jousting opponent from the dead with a prayer, thus catching the eye of Queen Guenevere. Though fond of her husband, she is drawn to the kingdom's most eligible bachelor. They inevitably become entangled in a legendary illicit romance. Because Camelot was founded on the principle that crimes, like adultery with the queen, must invariably be punished, Arthur is obliged to order his wife's execution. Her rescue, led by Lancelot and abetted by the early hour at which Arthur scheduled the event, tears Camelot apart. The consequences of irresistible desire extend to every character. Arthur's fling with his half-sister produced Modred, who would later scheme to depose his father and end the goody-goody days of Camelot. Merlyn, Arthur's moral and spiritual guide, is seduced away the Crystal Cave by the spirit Nimue. The knights who brought order to the kingdom get bored and will the return of rampant sin and bloodshed.

Would the characters have been more prudent or restrained in their cravings had they realized catastrophe would result? Probably not. After all, Arthur hubristically orders the compliance of Nature in his civil engineering, Guenevere snaps at her patron saint when things don't go her way, and Lancelot calls himself "a French Prometheus unbound"--they virtually compel divine retribution. The impulse to act in defiance of moderation, the law, and sense is celebrated in "The Lusty Month of May." Read the words or listen to Julie Andrews sing them on the original Broadway soundtrack (not Vanessa Redgrave's somnambulant interpretation from the movie which makes lust sound like it's about as much fun as the three hour church block), and obey them as you see fit. But don't be surprised in June when you have to face the music.


Tra la! It's May! The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray
Tra la! It's here! That shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

It's May! It's May! That gorgeous holiday
When every maiden wishes her lad would be a cad

It's mad! It's gay! A libelous display
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks,
Everyone makes divine mistakes, the lusty month of May!

Whence this fragrance wafting through the air?
What sweet feelings does its scent transmute?
Whence this perfume floating everywhere?
Don't you know it's that dear forbidden fruit?
Tra la la la la! That dear forbidden fruit!

Tra la! It's May! The lusty month of May!
That darling month when everyone throws self-control away
It's time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day one you'll always rue!

It's May! It's May! The month of "yes you may,"
The time for every frivolous whim, proper or im-

It's wild! It's gay! A blot in every way
The birds and bees with all of their vast
Amorous past* gaze at the human race aghast!
The lusty month of May!

--Music by Frederick Lowe, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (as transcribed by me, so if there are any errors contained within, blame his estate for not putting the words in some easy to steal location on the web. Also, I took out about 50 tra la las. Didn't think you'd mind.)

*This lyric was changed from "all of their fast-didious past" on the kind advice of Mr. Joseph Horn.

(Written by Sharon C. McGovern)

From Vol. 17
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