Saturday, December 21, 2013

Today's poem (and video) by Susan Cooper

The Shortest Day

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 candles all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
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
Note: I read 'beseeching fires' in every print version of the poem I saw, but the author says 'beseeching candles' so I, of course, used her word.

And the writer reading her poem: 


  1. A lovely poem to accompany your lovely header, and all the Christmas thoughts I'm currently feeling. Trying to dwell on snow and peace, rather than anything frantic! xo

    1. I was just thinking about you today!
      Have you ever read Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series?

    2. Fabulous poem. Loved the video reading too. Happy Yule...

  2. Lovely!

    (I've been lucky enough to have the chance to see her read at the National Book Festival and she is just as warm and animated in person as on video.)

    1. You are lucky! She seems like a wonderful person.

  3. What I like most about this poem is that with all of the cheer in it, it also conveys the anxieties - that light may not come. I love the expression "beseeching candles."

    I hope you have a happy holiday and wonderful New Year.

    1. I know. Really perfect use of words.
      Thank you for your good wishes.

  4. Nan, really enjoyed the imagery in this winter solstice poem. I read it aloud myself to hear the words. Feeling a bit harried, all my own doing so will try to keep this alternative vision in the foreground.. Love the header picture.

    1. Isn't harried just the best word? One knows exactly what that feels like. Just Susan Cooper's voice is calming to me.

    2. This is so lovely Nan. Thank you. Happy New Year. I am on a blog break until after the end of the New Years Holiday, but had a few minutes to catch up with my favorite people today.

    3. And to you. I keep thinking of Lennon's words -'let's hope it's a good one, without any fear.' Happy I am one of your favorite people, as you are mine as well.


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