Welcoming the New Year – 2016

Happy New Year!

Below – Alfred May (1862-1948, Tasmania): “Bird painting of Blue wrens on a New Year’s greeting card”

Welcoming January 2016 – Part I of II

January is named after the Roman god Janus, derived from the Latin word for door (“ianua”), since January is the door to the year. In the words of one historian, “In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.”

Art for the New Year – Eugene Dyczkowski: “In January”

Musings in Winter: Cavett Robert

“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”

Art for the New Year – Boris Wedernikov: “January Day”

A Poem for Today

“The Old Year,”
By John Clare

The Old Year’s gone away
To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
In either shade or sun:
The last year he’d a neighbour’s face,
In this he’s known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they’re here
And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
In every cot and hall–
A guest to every heart’s desire,
And now he’s nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
Are things identified;
But time once torn away
No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year’s Day
Left the Old Year lost to all.

Musings in Winter: Helen Keller

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Art for the New Year – Maya Eventov: “January Sunrise”

A Second Poem for Today

“After the Gentle Poet Kobayashi Issa,”
By Robert Hass

New Year’s morning—
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

Musings in Winter: William Shakespeare

“Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.”

Art for the New Year – Karla Nolan: “January Moonrise”

A Third Poem for Today

“Burning the Old Year,”
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Musings in Winter: Goran Persson

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”

Art for the New Year – Bryan Brems: “Red Barn January”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“January Morning – XII,”
By William Carlos Williams

Long yellow rushes bending
above the white snow patches;
purple and gold ribbon
of the distant wood:
what an angle
you make with each other as
you lie there in contemplation.

Musings in Winter: Samuel Pepys

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

Below – Beryl Cook: “Dining Out”

Art for the New Year – Leonid Afremov: “Sun of January”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“No Possum, No Sop, No Taters,”

By Wallace Stevens

He is not here, the old sun,
As absent as if we were asleep.

The field is frozen. The leaves are dry.
Bad is final in this light.

In this bleak air the broken stalks
Have arms without hands. They have trunks

Without legs or, for that, without heads.
They have heads in which a captive cry

Is merely the moving of a tongue.
Snow sparkles like eyesight falling to earth,

Like seeing fallen brightly away.
The leaves hop, scraping on the ground.

It is deep January. The sky is hard.
The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.

It is in this solitude, a syllable,
Out of these gawky flitterings,

Intones its single emptiness,
The savagest hollow of winter-sound.

It is here, in this bad, that we reach
The last purity of the knowledge of good.

The crow looks rusty as he rises up.
Bright is the malice in his eye . . .

One joins him there for company,
But at a distance, in another tree.

Musings in Winter: Jean-Paul Sartre

“To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.”

Below – June Kaplan: “A Walk in the Park”

Art for the New Year – Grant Wood: “January”

A Sixth Poem for Today

“New Year’s Poem,”
By Margaret Avison

The Christmas twigs crispen and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week’s party
Lies in the suety, snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
I remember
Anne’s rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark Arcturus down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.

Musings in Winter: Tom Peters

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.”

Art for the New Year – Kay Smith: “January Snow”

Musings in Winter: Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

Art for the New Year – Peter Fiore: “January Shade”

Musings in Winter: E. M. Forster

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”

Art for the New Year – Sarah Yuster: “January Moon”

A Seventh Poem for Today

By Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

Art for the New Year – Leon-Germain Pelouse: “January: Cernay, near Rambouillet”

Welcoming January 2016 – Part II of II

January: A time of gates and passages, an invitation to honor the past and look to the future, an occasion for endings and beginnings – a month for journeys both inner and outer, for creative enterprises, and, above all, for hope. Welcome, wonderful January.

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