Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today is Groundhog Day, my brother's birthday, the 128th birthday of James Joyce, and Candlemas Day -- a good day for taking down the Christmas greens if you haven't done so already. As the old 17thC poem goes:

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall . . .

Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe . . .
Thus times do shift: each thing its turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

from "Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve"
and "Ceremonies For Candlemas Eve"
both by Robert Herrick
English Poet (1591–1674)

Following Herrick's advice, I removed all the pine roping from the porches yesterday and dismantled the big tree. Sad, but it had to be done. Just like the poem a few weeks ago:
"an hour on the stepladder . . .
woman's work . . .
The sunlight brave and January thin"
"Untrimming the Tree"
by John N. Morris (1931 - 1997)
American author and educator

Today is not only Candlemas but also Imbolc, the Cross - Quarter Day that falls half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, a time of clear vision into other worlds and festivals of purification.

I recall a day back in college when my professor, Jim Thomas read "Ode to the West Wind" aloud to the class, concluding with his own cynical answer to the hopeful romanticism of the poem's closing question:

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

"Yes, Shelley, Yes!" he thundered. "It can be a long way behind!"

Well, whatever the Groundhog decides today, we're halfway!

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