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As you behold the carousel of players
in this glorious carnival called life,
take heed, approve, withhold your faith
in how and why they rise and fall
around you might consider, for a lark,
the forces light and dark, centripetal

and centrifugal, yes? For every petal
that descends without some player’s
tutting interference, there’s a lark
eager to jubilate, sing sweet of life
with all her many seasons. Fall
into razored traps of loss of faith,

you slit your wings. A jailer’s faith
in his assignment to destroy hope’s tender petal
ere it bursts forth from the bud will fall
like iron bars around him. As players
we are born, purveyors of a singular life
created thought by thought, a vulture or a lark.

Deplored by toilers and long-sufferers, the lark
receives through song and flit the faith
of mighty gods and thereby thrives at life.
Her passing flight uplifts the petal
of the hyacinth and rose. We players
are the axis of each season’s spring and fall.

Lamentives and depressors, I watch you fall,
entangled deep within your nets devoid of lark,
your favourite recitation, “Woe!” Jolly players
once, by circumstance & choice, you’ve dug of faith
a quicksand pit, too dense for seed and petal
to emerge until death frees you to some future life.

Circling each other is the stuff of life,
both unicorn and sabre tooth survived their fall;
the pot pourri, now bagged, recalls her petal
days, and as we humans sigh, the mother lark
sings to her eggs. We need not claim a faith,
for we are made of it, sublime and sacred players.

O, carnival of life and ash, may lark
and lyre’s melodies fall true around my faith,
the force centripetal, that draws to me eternal players.


It’s been a while since I posted a sestina. This one was doubly inspired by my current reading of Honoré de Balzac (the French title, in homage to him) and the opportunity to sit across from a father and his two young children in a coffee shop this morning. The father’s predominant words to his gorgeous kids were “No, no, no…” and “Don’t!” The children, like Balzac, stayed true to their axis of merriment, mighty forces both.

© Elaine Stirling, 2016