Happy solstice!

The winter solstice arrived here in the northern hemisphere about 45 minutes ago. (And the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, of course.) Here’s my usual reposting of two winter-solstice verses.

First, from T. S. Eliot‘s “Burnt Norton” (1935):

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

And second, my favorite lines from Susan Cooper‘s poem “The Shortest Day”:

As promise wakens in the sleeping land[…]

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.

Cooper now explicitly allows quoting her poem, but only under certain conditions: “It must be for personal, non-commercial use, and you must use the poem in its entirety (including the last line), and you must cite it ‘Copyright Susan Cooper.’” Unfortunately, she provides the poem on her website only in image format. Fortunately, Safari now lets you select the text of an image. So here’s the full poem, copyright Susan Cooper:

The Shortest Day

By Susan Cooper


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!

Join the Conversation