Spinks

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (detail)

Five gold rings? Why? To symbolise eternity?
Five gold rings: by showing one’s fidelity
so suitable as signs to give to our true loves!
But after gifting partridge and three turtle doves,
fancy French hens and a choir of blackbirds,
surely expectations are running now to words
which indicate to all some feathered friends?
Consider now the goldfinch, tinier than French hens.

Its liquid tinkling sounds are delightful to our ears,
‘finch’ an onomatopoeic version of its pinks.
Its striking blood-red mask’s said to spring from Christ’s own tears,
and the Scots and rural English call them ‘spinks’.
The flash of yellow seen on each and every wing
of these cheerful birds brings joy to every heart.
And their friendly chatterings as they trill and peep and sing
speaks of hopes of never ever being apart.

Now believe me when I say that the things of which one sings
in the carol may not be the things one thinks.
For the gifts the true love brings when one sings of golden rings
could be goldfinches or rightly golden spinks!


5/ Twelve Days of Christmas

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