Before the time of mighty Caesar,
The Roman year posed quite a teaser.
In ancient times ten months were named.
For lack of two cold Winter’s blamed.
The year began on March the first,
When Winter’s storms had done their worst.
‘Twas left to wise men when to start,
So Time and Seasons came to part.
Janus came to guard the door,
But still they needed one month more.
And so to seek a fresh new year,
The februa’s lash was brought to bear.
The score of days for each month’s due
Was twenty-nine for all save few.
Twenty-eight was Februa’s lot,
And thirty-one four others tot.
March was one and May another,
Quint’lis third, and last October.
Their Ides and Nones fell two days on,
To try to catch the fickle moon.
But still the year was ten days short,
And priests were called to mend this tort.
Mere mortals, they were seldom right,
And Spring oft winced with wintry blight.
Once more this battle Caesar won,
While beauteous Cleo bore his son.
For Egypt’s wisdom held the key,
To Time’s elusive mystery.
Sixty-five and hundreds three
Were now the days a year should be.
But Cleo’s curse says every four,
Februa must bear one day more.
Thirty days now hath September,
April, June and bleak November,
While thirty-one have all the rest,
Twenty-nine is February’s best.
Quint’lis bears the hero’s fame,
Fifth month no more, July’s her name.
Augustus sailed in Caesar’s wake
And Sextilis his honours take.
Two thousand years his measure stands
Still marking time for modern lands.
Yet few now honour Caesar’s name …
Another moth to Vulcan’s flame.
Our year’s ordained twelve stanzas long
And so, dear friend, must be our song.
It would be shame to play the miser
When Caesar made us so much wiser.
Bean, Jan ‘94