‘Twas the night before Winter Solstice, when all through the frustule
Not a spindle was stirring, not even a chromatid;
The stockings were hung with diatomaceous hooks by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Horst soon would be there;
The epivalve and hypovalves were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of phosphorus and nitrogen danced in their heads;
And resting cysts in a kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lake there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sediments to see what was the matter.
Away to the valve I flew like a flash,
Tore open the girdle bands and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to diatom blooms below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh full of diatoms, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old diminution cell, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Horst.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called each diatom by name; (nov. sp.)
“Now, DASHERA! now, DANCERA! now, PRANCERA and VIXENense!
On, COMETus! on CUPIDus! on, DONNERus and BLITZENsis (i.e. Bacillaria)!
To the top of the sediment! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As diatomite that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle while mounting the sky (Darwin’s sample jar),
So up to the sky-top the valves they flew,
With the sleigh full of diatoms, and St. Horst too.
And then, in a silica twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little diatom’s hoof (new terminology).
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the new species list St. Horst came with a bound.
He was dressed all in silica, from his head to his foot,
And his silica-clothes were all scratched with ash and soot;
A bundle of initial cells he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His silica glazed eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like chlorophyll, his nose like a nodule cherry!
His droll little raphe was drawn up like a bow,
And the EPS on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a separation spine he held tight in his teeth,
And the EPS encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad valve face and a round mid-valve belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump like an expanding girdle, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his silicious eye and a twist of his valve,
Soon gave me to know I was in diatom heaven;
St. Horst spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then tilted his raphe with a jerk,
And laying his linking spine aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the water column he rose;
He sprang to his diatom sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY SEASONS GREETINGS TO ALL diatomists, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
A poem changed by P. Hamilton
The council of the ISDR wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy, new year 2021.