From the Archives: Hymn to Janus

From the archives, here’s the hymn for Janus, the two-faced god of boundaries, that I wrote back in 2007.

Hail, two-faced god, looking forward and back,
reflecting on what came, and what will be:
you stand athwart each gate and branching track,
where free will intersects with destiny.
Your open portals meant unceasing war,
and easy turned the hinge that swung them wide;
a child’s touch alone could make them gape.
Some say blood-lust flows from that open door,
but wars truly start on this human side:
atrocity, massacre, conquest, rape

begin as pleasures in mortal cunning:
doors easily pushed are harder to pull.
Hobnails clash on streets as soldiers running,
fight til feet blister and weapons grow dull.
Janus, you stand at year’s first and last gate,
seeing both what we did, and what we’ll do.
Measurer of what was, and what is now,
and what may yet come, by chance or by fate,
please watch and keep accounts of old and new,
and count up, as sand grains, Time’s constant flow.

Janus two-faced, guide us through rolling days,
and teach us to spend our few hours well —
for Time hustles, and for no mortal stays;
through far-off mists we hear that swinging bell
which your astute ear so clearly discerns.
Behind us you see karma gathering,
a flood-front of justice picking up speed.
Open our eyes to see fate’s twisting turns,
to meet crisis with planned organizing,
as strong as oak, and pliant as reed.

I’ve made some alterations to the poem, as the perceptive among you will notice, but nothing particularly major – few word changes, some alterations to the punctuation.  Not like William Carlos Williams (who, as I recall the story, once wrote to his brother, “I had an exhausting day, poetically speaking:  I took a comma out, I put it back in again.”)

I don’t do any sort of ritual on this day, other than have dinner with my lady and enjoy some fireworks. It’s not even clear that we’ll stay up until midnight, although we may.  In the meantime, I wish all of you my readers a Joyous New Year in 2012.

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