At the meeting of the streets And the corners of the road, So grows an unexpected copse No seed has ever sowed. It sprouts up overnight Like a fungus on the make – This squatter on the pavement, Brings the Winter in its wake. Its trees have all blown over, And its needles all have shed To the gutters and the breezes, Until even these have fled. Then suddenly one morning We shall find the corner bare, Save the grey of frost and concrete And the chill upon the air.
I overindulged last month: Had far too many ideas. Now I’m a bloated, empty husk Who’s run right out of tears. My motor’s barely revving now, From weeks of crunching gears. My spark is fused, my wit is blown, I haven’t a thought to call my own.
Put away the tinsel and put on a sober tie, It’s time to all resume the working world – Another year has started, another passed us by, So it’s onwards to the future with a brand-new hue-and-cry (While already planning holidays to sunshine in July) And so into the cauldron we are swirled. On the 7:22 with the paper on our thigh, Or page 1 of the diary, with a hope or with a sigh, There’s no escaping progress – tomorrow’s never shy – And so into the New Year we are hurled.
In March the Ladies have their day, In June, the Summer’s mid, And Mickel holds his mass, they say, In late September, come what may, Just as he always did. And then we get to Christmas… That well known day for paying rents, And hiring staff, and starting school, And other secular events That prove there’s nothing new, alas, In monetising Yule.
They’re here all year are the robins, The robins on their rounds, Delivering their song. But we barely see all the robins, Barely hear their sounds When they’re lost in the throng. But come the Winter and come the cold, And go the fairweather flocks – But the robins are patient, the robins are bold, As bright as the frost and as red as the fox. With a whistle they come, And they sing out the season And snow cannot stop them from spreading their cheer. They sing to each other, They sing for no reason, But we only hear them at this time of year.
They’re here all year are the robins, The robins on their rounds, Delivering their post. We little think of the robins Braving rain and hounds, Till we need them the most – Then comes the Winter and comes the cold And on go the jumpers and socks, And we need them to bring us the red and the gold On the cards and the parcels they push through our box. With a whistle they come, And they bring us the season, And snow cannot stop them from winging it here. They come when it’s sunny, They come when it’s freezing, But we only see them at this time of year.
As I’ve discussed in another poem, robins are territorial and violent birds. However, they’re also a great source of pleasure to humans. So much so that Victorian postmen with their red waistcoats were nicknamed robin redbreasts and soon Christmas cards were featuring them in both human and allegorical avian form.
And when I suggest that the robins ‘sing for no reason’, I am aware fully aware of the many uses that their song serves, but there is increasing evidence that occassionally birds really might just sing for the fun of it.
Heads up, jaws set, eyes fixed – here we go ! Once more unto the tinsel and mistletoe, Haul out the fairy lights, string up the streamers, Censor the cynics and pander the dreamers: For here comes December ! And there goes the quiet: The balancing budget and sensible diet – Instead, we get suet and Dickens by snow – But brace up and take it, cos here we all go !
All through November, We dash into Winter – Not me. November’s November, And I’m not a sprinter When leaves are still falling And afternoons glinter, You see. All through November, I’ll take my Autumnal sweet time. I’ve no wish to onrush The noise and the crush of the big pantomime.
But finally, here comes December – From season of mist to the season of mistletoe, Nip becomes frost becomes why-won’t-it-snow-? Finally, finally, on comes December – And finally, even I unleash the cheer… So haul up the streamers and load up the larder, For now is the season of twinkles and ardour – Throughout a whole twelfth, and for only a twelfth, of the year.
In the Summer’s heat I bought ’em, And they barely raised a leaf – But here in the depths of Autumn As the roses come to grief, And while the first of frost is looming, With the pumpkins come and gone, So now the cyclamens are blooming Just as though the sun still shone.