The shortest day of the year of the year used to be December 13, Saint Lucy’s Day. Now it’s December 21; Here in the Boston area we get a little over nine hours of sunlight.
Here is John Donne’s great Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy’s Day:
‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;The sun is spent, and now his flasksSend forth light squibs, no constant rays;The world’s whole sap is sunk;The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers beAt the next world, that is, at the next spring;For I am every dead thing,In whom Love wrought new alchemy.For his art did expressA quintessence even from nothingness,From dull privations, and lean emptiness;He ruin’d me, and I am re-begotOf absence, darkness, death: things which are not.
All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;I, by Love’s limbec, am the graveOf all that’s nothing. Oft a floodHave we two wept, and soDrown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we growTo be two chaoses, when we did showCare to aught else; and often absencesWithdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)Of the first nothing the elixir grown;Were I a man, that I were oneI needs must know; I should prefer,If I were any beast,Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,And love; all, all some properties invest;If I an ordinary nothing were,As shadow, a light and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sunAt this time to the Goat is runTo fetch new lust, and give it you,Enjoy your summer all;Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,Let me prepare towards her, and let me callThis hour her vigil, and her eve, since thisBoth the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.