03 January, 2008

January Appreciation

Welcome New Year.

Jean-Paul Sartre said, "To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June." I like January. I like the garnet birthstone, the flowers (carnations, snowdrops, and in China, the plum blossom). I even like that January is National Soup Month in the United States.

But mostly, I appreciate January's symbolism. Named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways, and of beginnings and endings, Janus was considered the spirit of 'opening'. He is represented with a two sided head, one looking ahead and the other always looking behind. He also symbolically represented the city of Rome: looking back at the primitive cultures before them, and forward as the first real civilization, (some Roman coins show him with, and some without, beards...which I find amusing...)

Sure, it leaves something to be desired in the holiday area (without any offense intended to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the the third Monday, [Robert] Burns Night on the 25th, or Australia Day on the 26th-- I mean, I love the 'I have a dream speech,' haggis and Anzak biccies as much as the next guy!), but I see a beauty in an official time to start fresh, to move forward with courage, dignity and clear knowledge (having hopefully learned from our past errors). All of this, cultivated in the dead of winter (again with no offense intended to my Southern Hemisphere readers), is poetry to me. One of those thoughts that makes you breathe deeply.

Enjoy January. Breathe it in!

"O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast."
-- Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnets: January

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