The Calendar

For the Cornish original, please click here.


In Egypt men of science
reckoned a year precisely1
and worked out the days,
a thing good for everyone.
There came Julius Caesar
and saw Cleopatra
and learned about the science
of calculating it so accurately.


His calendar was splendid.2
There were no mistakes,
three hundred and sixty five
days, although they were increased
by just a quarter of one day,
was the true length of one year
from Asia to Spain,
Africa, Greece and Germany.


Which month to start everything?
January is the best,
Janus the one who opens doors.
The Senate was pleased to
name a month after Caesar.
July was a peerless month
to be called "Julius"
nearly everywhere in the world.


The Emperor Constantine
battling with a traitor
three hundred years later
managed to defeat him
by Christ's Cross as a token.
He made the Romans
part of the Christian Church
with the Jewish week.3


But what name for the year?
For all of half a millennium
the name of the emperor or consul
was indeed the best idea
for naming Caesar's year,
this splendid peerless year,
but as Rome's power was waning
it was better to find a new way.


There was in fact an abbot,
Dionysius his name
who wanted to count it
from the birth of Jesus
and clearly give it
the name Anno Domini.4
In England Bede was
the first to do so.5


The year of Julius was too long
It did not come quite right
a thousand years after that.


Gregory had to get the year right
and correct it everywhere.6
Ten days went away
without being celebrated by the Bards.


But England, as well as Cornwall
kept all the days
that were wiped out in every land.
Through all of two hundred years
the good folk were confused,
lost and bewildered
as regards the month and the date--
Old style or new style?


After two hundred years
the idea was accepted
and Cornwall and all England
talk about the Calendar . . .
Eleven days were deleted
and the year begun
in January instead of March.7
Taxes paid the sixth of April
delayed eleven days!8


14236 BC.
245 BC.
3321 AD.
4532 AD.
5731 AD.
6Pope Gregory XIII, 1582 AD.
71752 AD.
8From March 25, the first day of the year, "old style"; this is why the tax year in the United Kingdom begins Aoril 6.