30 January 2017

larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Monday, Monday, poetry for a Monday.


Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve, Robert Herrick

Down with the rosemary and bays,
    Down with the misletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
    The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;    
    Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
    Or Easter’s eve appear.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
    Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
    Unto the crispèd yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
    And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
    To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
    With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
    To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.


I was going to post this next week, but I just realized that this Thursday is already the February 2 -- the Feast of the Purification or Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This was called Candlemas in the early Church from the practice of carrying lighted candles in procession in memory of Simeon's words during the presentation of the infant Jesus, "to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles." Traditionally, Christmas decorations in churches remained up until this day, when they're finally taken down. And Herrick, like the traditional parish priest that he was (*cough*cough*), knew this custom very well.

Herrick actually published two poems on the subject: the other is here. The titles are easily confuseable in google searches.

---L.

Subject quote from "Hydriotaphia, Urn-Burial," Thomas Browne.

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