Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice


So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"

- Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day

I know that I used this poem as part of my Winter Solstice post last year but it is so perfect for the occasion that I make no apology for using it again this year.

Today is the Winter Solstice, for a short time the sun pauses and then gradually, gradually the days begin to lengthen again. There are many long cold days ahead for 'as the days lengthen the cold strengthens' but one day we shall feel the warmth of the sun on our faces again and it will be Spring once more. From today the Oak King begins his reign and we start the long slow journey back to the Earth's reawakening. Happy Winter Solstice!

NB The beautiful image of the Holly King is by Angela Jayne Barnett. The photograph of the sun is taken from the web but I don't know who to give the credit too unfortunately.


laoi gaul~williams said...


a lovely post thank you!

Diane said...

It is a lovely poem Rowan and very apt. The Eclipse was very magical this morning, but it did disappear behind cloud shortly after I took the photo. xxxx

Bovey Belle said...

We had 10/10 cloud cover here, so no chance to see the eclipse. I loved the illustrations on your post. Downhill to spring now, all the way!!! (Mind you, quite possibly on a sledge . . .)

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post Rowan ~ it has added to my celebration and added to my knowledge. May you have happy and heartening seasonal celebrations ♥

Kath said...

Solstice Blessings!

Unknown said...

Happy New Year, Rowan! We had beautiful moonlight this morning until the clouds obscured the most important part!

Nan said...

Her poem is used (and I believe was written for) at the Revels show. Have you ever seen it? If not, there is music available which you might enjoy. More here:

Gracie said...

Lovely poem, no problems with reading it more than once.....

Mac n' Janet said...

Lovely post, I saw the early part of the eclipse and Mac took pix later. Now the days grow longer and the year moves on.

George said...

Thanks, Rowan. I really enjoyed the poem! Have a wonderful holiday.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Beautiful! My sister's birthday too!

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Blessings to you at this beautiful time of the year.

WOL said...

Solstice Blessings to you and yours!

Janet said...

Happy Winter's Solstice! The photo is beautiful.

Rosie said...

Lovely poem. Happy Winter Solstice to you:)

Anonymous said...

Happy Winter Solstice Rowan.
So more daylight now, but I don't think we are going to notice it much for a long while yet.{:)

Hildred said...

Lovely poem, - it gives you a sense of Time and a bond with the people of the past and their experiences of the Winter Solstice.

MorningAJ said...

What a wonderful poem. Happy Yule to you and yours. And bright blessings for the new year.

Dartford Warbler said...

I love the poem and the image of the Oak King.

This evening, when I was outside feeding the animals , I realised that it was still almost light at 4.45pm. I didn`t have to put on the outside light in the yard. Real progress, as it has recently been getting dark at 3.30pm here. It makes such a difference! A real "glass half full" moment!

Mac n' Janet said...

Merry Christmas Rowan.

Gracie said...

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a spectacular New Year!!