* Speck is paraphrasing the first two lines of an anonymous thirteenth century poem, “The Cuckoo Song.” The poem is written in Middle English, so the spellings are odd and the meanings are obscure at times, compared to present day English. (Middle English dictionary here.)
This version of “The Cuckoo Song” is from the textbook “Poems, Poets, Poetry” by Helen Vendler (Harvard University).
The Cuckoo Song
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude* sing, cuccu! (loud)
Groweth sed and bloweth med* (meadow)
And springth the wude nu.
Awe* bleteth after lomb, (ewe)
Lhouth* after calve cu,* (loweth/cow)
Bulluc sterteth,* bucke verteth* (leaps/breaks wind)
Murie sing, cuccu!
Wel singes thu, cuccu.
Ne swik* thu never nu! (stop)