Saint Lucy’s Day is the shortest day of the year — or if it isn’t, quite, it was when Donne wrote the poem and that is the idea of the poem. Hence, “the year’s midnight.” That fits for the Tenai trilogy because the veil between the worlds is thinnest at midwinter, on the shortest day of the year, and that’s when Tenai first came through the veil from her world to ours.
I read this poem as about grief at a great loss and the transformation that grief may effect. I hope that there is also a suggestion of recovery, because that would be appropriate to the story, but I have to admit the poem is a bit impenetrable as far as I’m concerned. However, abstracting “As Shadow, a Light” implies recovery, and so does the whole line — As shadow, a light and body must be here — if a reader is familiar with the poem, or looks it up and reads that line.
Also, “The Year’s Midnight” just sounds good to me — I agree with Mary Catelli about that. Also, I guess I do like punctuation in titles — at least some titles. Louise makes a good point about the second and third possible titles matching in form, and I do think that’s a plus as well. So — I think I will go with those titles, and thank you very much for your feedback, everyone!
Now I just (“just”) need to think of a series title . . .
Meanwhile, here’s the complete poem by John Donne if you’d like to read it and see what you think:
‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
For I am every dead thing,
In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.
All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
Were I a man, that I were one
I needs must know; I should prefer,
If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
At this time to the Goat is run
To fetch new lust, and give it you,
Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.