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A poem for the coming year by George Barker

Barker was first published by T.S. Eliot

  • January jumps about
  • January jumps about
  • in the frying pan
  • trying to heat
  • his frozen feet
  • like a Canadian.
  • February scuttles under
  • any dish’s lid
  • and she thinks she’s dry because she’s
  • thoroughly well hid
  • but it still rains all month long
  • and it always did.
  • March sits in the bath tub
  • with the taps turned on.
  • Hot and cold, cold or not,
  • Has the Winter gone?
  • In like a lion, out like a lamb
  • March on, march on, march on.
  • April slips about
  • sometimes indoors
  • and sometimes out
  • sometimes sheltering from a little
  • shower of bright rain
  • in an empty milk bottle
  • then dashing out again.
  • May, she hides nowhere,
  • nowhere at all,
  • Proud as a peacock
  • walking by a wall.
  • The Maytime O the Maytime,
  • full of leaf and flower.
  • The Maytime O the Maytime
  • is the loveliest of all.
  • June discards his shirt and
  • trousers by the stream
  • and takes the first dip of the year
  • into a jug of cream.
  • June is the gay time
  • of every girl and boy
  • who run about and sing and shout
  • in pardonable joy.
  • July by the sea
  • sits dabbling with sand
  • letting it run out of
  • her rather lazy hand,
  • and sometimes she sadly
  • thinks: “As I sit here
  • ah, more than half the year is gone,
  • the evanescent year.”
  • August by an emperor
  • was given his great name.
  • It is gold and purple
  • like a Hall of Fame.
  • (I have known it rather cold
  • and wettish, all the same.)
  • September lies in shadows
  • of the fading summer
  • hearing, in the distance,
  • the silver horns of winter
  • and not very far off
  • the coming autumn drummer.
  • October, October
  • apples on the tree,
  • the Partridge in the Wood and
  • the big winds at sea,
  • the mud beginning in the lane
  • the berries bright and red
  • and the big tree wildly
  • tossing its old head.
  • November, when the fires
  • love to burn, and leaves
  • flit about and fill the air
  • where the old tree grieves.
  • November, November
  • its name is like a star
  • glittering on many things that were
  • but few things that are.
  • Twelfth and last December.
  • a few weeks away
  • we hear the silver bells
  • of the stag and the sleigh
  • flying from the tundras
  • far far away
  • bringing to us all the gift
  • of our Christmas Day.
George Barker

George Barker (193-1991) was an English poet often associated with the New Apocalyptics, a movement which resisted the realism prevalent in imaginative works of the 1930s by presenting a style immersed in myth and the surreal. Yet Barker’s unique style itself resists categorization. Barker was first published by T.S. Eliot, then an editor at Faber and Faber, in the early 1920s. After a stint teaching in Japan, Barker traveled to the United States where he met novelist Elizabeth Smart, fathered three of his fifteen children with her, and later wrote about their affair in the 1950 novel The Dead Seagull.

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  • January jumps about
  • January jumps about
  • in the frying pan
  • trying to heat
  • his frozen feet
  • like a Canadian.
  • February scuttles under
  • any dish’s lid
  • and she thinks she’s dry because she’s
  • thoroughly well hid
  • but it still rains all month long
  • and it always did.
  • March sits in the bath tub
  • with the taps turned on.
  • Hot and cold, cold or not,
  • Has the Winter gone?
  • In like a lion, out like a lamb
  • March on, march on, march on.
  • April slips about
  • sometimes indoors
  • and sometimes out
  • sometimes sheltering from a little
  • shower of bright rain
  • in an empty milk bottle
  • then dashing out again.
  • May, she hides nowhere,
  • nowhere at all,
  • Proud as a peacock
  • walking by a wall.
  • The Maytime O the Maytime,
  • full of leaf and flower.
  • The Maytime O the Maytime
  • is the loveliest of all.
  • June discards his shirt and
  • trousers by the stream
  • and takes the first dip of the year
  • into a jug of cream.
  • June is the gay time
  • of every girl and boy
  • who run about and sing and shout
  • in pardonable joy.
  • July by the sea
  • sits dabbling with sand
  • letting it run out of
  • her rather lazy hand,
  • and sometimes she sadly
  • thinks: “As I sit here
  • ah, more than half the year is gone,
  • the evanescent year.”
  • August by an emperor
  • was given his great name.
  • It is gold and purple
  • like a Hall of Fame.
  • (I have known it rather cold
  • and wettish, all the same.)
  • September lies in shadows
  • of the fading summer
  • hearing, in the distance,
  • the silver horns of winter
  • and not very far off
  • the coming autumn drummer.
  • October, October
  • apples on the tree,
  • the Partridge in the Wood and
  • the big winds at sea,
  • the mud beginning in the lane
  • the berries bright and red
  • and the big tree wildly
  • tossing its old head.
  • November, when the fires
  • love to burn, and leaves
  • flit about and fill the air
  • where the old tree grieves.
  • November, November
  • its name is like a star
  • glittering on many things that were
  • but few things that are.
  • Twelfth and last December.
  • a few weeks away
  • we hear the silver bells
  • of the stag and the sleigh
  • flying from the tundras
  • far far away
  • bringing to us all the gift
  • of our Christmas Day.
George Barker

George Barker (193-1991) was an English poet often associated with the New Apocalyptics, a movement which resisted the realism prevalent in imaginative works of the 1930s by presenting a style immersed in myth and the surreal. Yet Barker’s unique style itself resists categorization. Barker was first published by T.S. Eliot, then an editor at Faber and Faber, in the early 1920s. After a stint teaching in Japan, Barker traveled to the United States where he met novelist Elizabeth Smart, fathered three of his fifteen children with her, and later wrote about their affair in the 1950 novel The Dead Seagull.

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