Author Archives: Calmgrove

About Calmgrove

Book review blogger and piano accompanist

Twelfth Night

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While eight maids milked nine ladies were dancing. Because ten lords wanted to leap one of the maids had to dance, which left the eleven pipers fuming as there were only seven maids left to ask, and the twelve drummers left off their drumming to fight because there were no more maids to ask, until it was realised that not all the pipers and drummers were men as first thought.

So the fight was called off, they all had a glass of warm milk (taken from the buckets which hadn’t yet been kicked over in the dancing) and they retired yawning to bed, finally leaving the love birds alone on the twelfth day of Christmas.

But the true loves were already lying exhausted on the sofa. It had been a trying day.


Twelve Days of Christmas

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The year’s eve

On this, the seventh day of Christmas, my true love has given me
seven swans, six geese,
five goldfinches, four blackbirds,
three hens, two doves
and a blinking partridge.

That’s twenty-eight birds just on this day,
not forgetting the previous six days.
Doesn’t he know the mess all these birds
in one pear tree make over just one week?
And all the feeding they require?

And then there’s the hissing, the honking,
the twittering, the whistling,
the cackling, the cooing
and the rasping, day in, day out.
I can’t bear it!

And there are five more days to go!

Make it stop!


Twelve Days of Christmas

Goose a-laying

He once had a goose that laid some eggs, of gold each were the same —
until his true love hoped to see from where the gold all came.
But geese are good with warning calls and since he gave her seven
they raised th’alarm when their time came to be dispatch’d to heaven.

Moral: Raise a din to save your skin.

6/ Twelve Days of Christmas

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

A promised partridge

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To celebrate the Saviour’s birth
He gave to her a stick in earth.
As promised to his love most true
A tree from that bare stick soon grew
And pears did from its branches form
To show his love for her stayed warm.

But she was troubled when she heard
him promise he’d give her the bird…


The Twelve Days of Christmas 1

A Visit from Nemesis

or is it Hubris?

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the world
Science warned of the perils which soon would unfurl
Like a veil across nations, some variant virus
Respecting no frontiers, a fate undesirous.

But bad politicians (who cared not one jot
For the weak, old or ignorant) hastened their plot
To party all night while denying the fact;
Just flaunting their privilege, which others lacked.

But turkeys will finally come home to their roost,
With leaks to the press and the media now loosed.
It all adds to the sins seeking bottoms to bite:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


A reflection on contemporary politics, after a Conservative PM, his Cabinet and his coterie were revealed in December 2021 to have partied through 2020 while the country went through various lockdowns and periods of self-isolation.

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore and his poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ (1822)

A curse for Halloween

© C A Lovegrove

People who park on pavements,
leave cars on corners,
park where it says No Parking,
gaze haughtily from their gas-guzzlers,
tailgate you when traffic is heavy,
and make your road a rat-run:
may their pumps always run dry.

Pooch owners who don’t clear up poo,
or leave doggie bags on branches
(like votive offerings to Almighty Dog),
or rip up signs saying Keep Dogs on Leads
on grass where livestock grazes,
or irresponsibly let them roam:
may they forever gag at canine waste.

Bodies who deny you personal space,
who treat you to their taste in loud music,
liberally scatter cans and cast-off plastic,
jettison food wrappers or household junk,
and trash the world on which we all live:
may ghouls invade their dreams each and every night.

A nightmare is not just for Halloween:
please pray there’s no peace for the wicked.

Feathered philosopher

Image credit: Tristan Ferne

Philosophising woodpigeon
poses existential questions
each and every morning, without … fail:

Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are? Who?

My very sense of selfhood’s
undercut repeatedly,
I really doubt I ever … knew.

Before I make my own quietus
feathered Plato shifts next door,
interrogates our neighbours … who

will too, in their turn, have
identities belittled by
his nauseating bill and … coo:

Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are? Who?