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  'January Comet'

"'January Comet' was inspired initially by Finzi's 'The comet at Yell'ham'.
   I started to wonder which  comet Hardy had seen to inspire the poem.
It wasTebutt's Comet of June 1881 - which didn't quite fit my remit,
because I wanted a winter sky, and a comet that might also have
appeared in Finzi's lifetime. Halley's Comet appeared in 1910,
but not in winter ( and was a disappointment besides), but a source picture
- a rare Delft commemorative plate - indicated that there had been a second famous
comet in 1910. This was bright enough even to be seen in daylight and is
variously known as 1910a, the Winter Comet, Great Comet
(a name given to the brightest comet in any given year), and so on.
Presumably, in 1910, old Hardy and young Finzi would both have seen
its 'strange swift shine' (in those far-off days of zero light pollution).
The only image of this mysterious comet is stylised version, on the Delft plate."



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