Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.
Lagostrophus fasciatus (Banded Hare Wallaby),
Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1 January 1778 – 12 December 1846), naturalist, artist, and explorer;
writer on zoological, geological, historical, and archeological research
The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’
Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948)
Scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist
My musical friend, at whose house I am now visiting, has tried all the owls that are his near neighbors with a pitch-pipe set at concert pitch, and finds they all hoot in B flat.
He will examine the nightingales next spring.
Gilbert White (1720 – 1793), from The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne
The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;
and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion of what becomes
a star each night, and rises;
and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
translated by Stephen Mitchell
Hans Holbein designed this clocksalt—a combination of a clock, hourglass, sundial, and compass—for Sir Anthony Denny, whose portrait he had drawn two years earlier.
A note on the drawing shows that Denny presented a clock made from this design to King Henry, who owned a number of clocks and clocksalts, as a New year’s gift. It would have been an expensive item, made of precious metals. Holbein had often designed for goldsmiths since his training in Augsburg, a centre of the goldsmiths’ trade.
Two of the notes on the sketch are in the hand of Holbein’s friend the royal astronomer Nicholas Kratzer, who probably assisted in the technical design of the piece.
Susan Foister, Holbein in England
Anthony Denny was the most prominent member of the Privy chamber in the last years of Henry VIII.
He was educated at St Paul’s School and St John’s College, Cambridge, was a member of the reformist circle that offset the conservative religious influence of Bishop Gardiner, and helped finalise Henry‘s will upon his deathbed, specifically arguing to him against the removal of Gardiner from the will.
Denny was himself the man to tell Henry of his coming death, advising the old King “to prepare for his final agony”.
Robert Hutchinson, (2006)
Lullaby in Blue
[. . . . .]
Child, from this world now you will draw your breath
and let out your moth flutter of blue sighs. Now your mother will listen for each one, alert enough to hear snow starting to flake from the sky, bay water beginning to freeze. Sleep now, little shadow, as your first world still flickers across your face, that other side where all was given and nothing desired. Soon enough you’ll want milk, want faces, hands, heartbeats and voices singing in your ear. Soon the world will amaze you, and you will give back its bird-warble, its dove call, singing that blue note which deepens the song, that longing for what no one can recall, your small night cry roused from the wholeness you carry into this broken world
from ROUGH CRADLE (Alice James, 2009)
[This is an excerpt from Lullaby in Blue. Please see the complete poem here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/lullaby-blue]
The earth is motionless
And poised in space …
A great bird resting in its flight
Between the alleys of the stars.
It is the wind’s hour off ….
The wind has nestled down among the corn ….
The two speak privately together,
Awaiting the whirr of wings.
Lola Ridge (December 1873 – May 1941)