Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Poems of the Season

There is a wonderful used-book store in my city, Juniper Books, which lives in a little house crammed to the rafters with a wondrous variety of books. History and politics gather in the former living room, cookbooks mix it up in the kitchen, mysteries haunt the attic, children's tales frolic in the dining room. I hope that owners past are pleased with their home's current guise, and find it as charming as I do!

Last Saturday, in exchange for a bagful of books given, I came home with an armful of Christmas reads, among them a tiny tome called Christmas Poems. One selection in particular seemed to meld Solstice with Yuletide and Christmas.

So as we near the magical time that is Christmas Eve, I give you my three favourite stanzas from
Christmas Eve by Walter de la Mare.

Dark is the hour, long the night;
Hoarfrost sheds a shimmering light;
The wind in the naked woodland cries
A harplike music; the willow sighs.
But a marvellous quiet dwells in heaven -
Sirius, Markab, the faithful Seven -
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.

No glint of dawn; but Chanticlere
Is crowing of Christmas, bugle clear.
In waxen hive, close-wintering,
Bees a slumbrous orison sing;
Roused from their lair in dales of the snow,
Light-foot deer in procession go;
Cattle and sheep in byre and pen
Kneel in the darkness, unseen of men:
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.

Hesper is shining - rime on thatch;
Stag-borne Nicholas comes - unlatch!
Children stir in their dream and then
Drowsily sigh and turn over again.
Airs of the morn in the orchard flow;
Lo, in the apple boughs, mistletoe!
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The New Year's card is the Hermit, shown here bedecked with holly in the Wildwood Tarot
His lantern could almost be an hour-glass, where the sands of the New Year will soon begin to run.


I wish you joy and peace, merry-making and serenity,
and sufficient nog and cookies to see you through the season.