A Christmas Sestina by David Harris

A Sestina for Christmas

Our Christmas Day, the day that Christ was born,
a full nine months from when the angel told
the blessed Virgin what she could expect.
So says St Luke, but then, when He arrived,
what was the date? The Saint left it unclear.
But now, of course, it’s firmly set in stone.

In ancient Ireland’s monuments of stone
to celebrate the shrinking sun re-born
the day was marked with symbols that are clear.
Sun’s golden rays upon the altar told
mid-winter solstice clearly had arrived
to herald coming spring, they could expect.

Dies Natalis Solis.  They expect
in Rome, the sun’s rebirth, it’s writ in stone –
for Saturnalia’s feast day has arrived.
In some far-off dominion has been born
a local princeling, or so they are told.
No relevance to Rome, that much is clear.

The old Germanic pagans were unclear
among their gods, just which they should expect
to greet mid-Winter’s Yule, so it is told.
Would it be Donner, crashing stone on stone?
Perhaps a Faery, come to bless new-born?
Be sure that Yule-tyde feast day had arrived.

The queen bee knows when solstice has arrived,
from this day on she lays more eggs.  It’s clear
the future generations must be born.
Spring’s flower and nectar bounty can expect
the pollinating squadrons, from their stone
and woodland hives, so we are told.

Through ancient gods and stories, we are told
the signs when Winter’s shortest day’s arrived,
presenting us with Summer’s first mile-stone.
We know to all of human-kind it’s clear
but more than that, all nature’s lives expect
that this day heralds all new year’s new-born.

As ancient stories told, since we were born,
the solstices arrived, we could expect
a destiny as carved in stone, that much is clear.

David Harris, with ancestry in Tipperary, is a retired engineer and private pilot living in Adelaide. He is an Irish language enthusiast and plays the tin whistle with Adelaide’s Celtic Musicians. You can read more of his poetry at http://friendlystreetpoets.org.au/poetry/sample-of-poets/david-harris/