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December 21, 2022


" . . . .the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust . . ."

Nice one! Of course, at the time of the writing of this poem England was still using the Julian calendar, so St. Lucy's eve, Dec. 13, took place in Capricorn -- no longer.
The switch to the Gregorian calendar shifted ancient astronomically-based celebrations away from their original heavenly correspondences, one reason why it was opposed.

Here's a dark view of Christmas from Capricorn poet Osip Mandelstam, born January 15 [Old Style January 3] 1891

Where night casts anchor
in the zodiac’s forsaken constellations,
where are you flying to,
October’s withered leaves,
forgotten suckling babes of dark?
Why have you fallen from the tree of life?
Bethlehem for you is alien and strange,
nor have you ever known a crib.

Alas, you leave no heirs behind;
a sexless bitchiness possesses you:
childless you shall go down
into your lamented graves;
and on the very brink of silence
where no remembrance is kept by nature,
it’s not to you the underlying nations
are condemned; they’re fated for the stars.
from 50 Poems, trans. Bernard Meares 1977

While I'm here, may I add to the list of Capricorn poets Philip Levine, author of What Work Is, and Ashes? ( b. Jan. 10, 1928)

Season's Greetings
--- Blue Zenith

Thank you for the stellar commentary -- and the warm greetings. I wish you good fortune in this year full of portents and signs where signs and wonders had been wanted. Let us drink to Donne's "new lust" and to Mandelstam's chilling evocation of the "zodiac's forsaken constellations." -- DL

Not to be intrusive . . but we might observe Mandelstam's Old Style birthday:

And squashing the worn-out year of my birth
in my fist with the crowd and the herd
I whisper through bloodless lips:
"I was born in the night of the second and third
of January in the eighteen ninety-first
untrustworthy year, and the centuries
surround me with fire."

again Bernard Meares 1977 translated

Then read (if you like) in The Ode on Slate, of

"A mighty junction of star with star,
the flinty path in an older song,
in language of flint and air combined . . ."

[Is that the zodiac again?] and of the mountain and Capricorn, earth's most ambitious aspect,

"the steeply sloping goats' home cities". . .

--Blue Z.

John Donne----that man could write a poem.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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