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Behind the red door and down a great hall
if you’ve had quite enough of life in a stall
you will find around a pied revolving table
with uncountable chairs, this is no fable,
guests merry & bright who wink and enthrall

with fresh love surprising, composers of ball,
not of chain, you’ll find repast, sweet future for all
and the past you once blamed, aptly disabled
behind the red door

doubts you once harboured will slow to a crawl
while fear fades to woodgrain upon the fine walls;
this season of change reunites Cain to Abel
the holly-hung thorn tree spins like a dreidel
the light that upholds us restored, fully able
behind the red door.


As an antidote to retail Christmas music, I find myself cheered by the medieval rondeau and its infinite variations. They’re just so fun to write, imagining dancers and singers weaving in and out, circling round the rentrement, a curtailed, repeating phrase that doesn’t rhyme—in this instance, “behind the red door”.

The ever-illuminating Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics tells us that the rondeau was preceded in the 13th century by rondets de carole, which come down to us today as the carol. Layer upon layer upon layer, celebration. Thank you, dear friends, for your inspiration and presence.

© Elaine Stirling, 2014
Photograph by author