A Pool of Light

This Sunday is the second week of Advent. We are two weeks away from winter solstice, the darkest part of the year in the Northern hemisphere. The Sunday Weekly poem is definitely conditioned partly by the weather. Even with the moon approaching full this week, the weather has been stormy and cloudy. The nights only reveal the odd glimmer of moonlight. The skies are low and grey and twilight seems to draw in earlier than what the almanac’s say is technically sunset. Despite the bugs going around, we humans seem to want to huddle together. It was a far more social week than most for me, with us out for two very, very late nights into the wee hours, singing in a pub ceilidh. The night outside was stormy and foul, but inside we were all snug, singing our hearts out, bantering, laughing, making music with each other, applauding each other, appreciating every contribution to the night’s entertainment.

McHugh’s Pub is tiny even by Irish standards. It has a narrow bar for regulars and a larger, but not large l-shaped room where we crammed in with guitars, bazooki, mandolins and djembe drum. Twice a year, three travelling troubadours from Dublin pitch up in Glenfarne and lead this old-style session. Pat Trimble amiably draws people out to contribute a song or recite a poem. In between, Pat, Terry, and Vince play (along with my husband Tony) any number of tunes from any amount of styles – folk, rock, Irish trad, country, with a few rousing sing-alongs thrown in- throughout the evening. Yes, there is drink, but the high spirits are really music inspired. The publican’s daughter brings out her concertina and gives us a few tunes inbetween helping at the bar and getting the midnight supper sorted. It’s that kind of hospitable place.

McHughs Pub Glenfarne
Ben McHugh’s Pub, Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim
A Pool of Light

A splash in this December night, the motley
assembly of voices raised in chorus,
virtual strangers picking out harmonies,
humming along when words fail, beating
time to the tunes , clapping, snugged up
in this small country pub, turf fire warming
the crowd of bodies at the bar and we are

singing, singing, carried along by
melody, cameraderie, joy's memory.
Hope sounds like our rowdy laughter,
applause, the respectful murmur of 'good man' ,
the parting glass wishing all a 'Good night!'
as Ben holds open the door, formally shaking our hands
as we leave that pool of light and walk out
into winter's dark night.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured photo Photo by Ryk Naves on Unsplash

Some Sunday Joy

It has been a fruitful week. The Sunday Weekly Poem reflects a moment in a week that is known for Thanksgiving, even if you don’t live in a country where it is a national holiday. It is also the first Sunday of Advent even if you are not Christian. Last year I wrote a sequence of Advent poems for each Sunday for those who perform this mindful ritual, whether they are Christians who light the Advent wreath candles or pagans observing the Sunwheel each Sunday before Winter Solstice. This is what my 2018 Advent wreath looked like https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/01/advent/.

The first Sunday of Advent’s candle is for hope. But I was so startled by a quiet flush of joy this week that it is my theme for the weekly poem. Gratitude, hope, joy…we need to celebrate these in the dark days of winter. Even if they only appear as glimpses.

The Morning After Thanksgiving

Staring out my window I am stabbed by
a joy in the smallest of things:
how the stars wink in those minutes before dawn
begins to pink the horizon,
how when winter's brilliant sun breaks
and shines it outlines the intricate delicacy
of the hoar frost mantilla yarrow and hogweed wear,
how light stretches itself lazily in a slow promenade
in soft soled slippers across the field, melting
the frost very, very slowly and, also,
how it persists all day on the lane's edges
all crisp and starched as an altar boy's surplice.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

The Gift

The Gift

I am grateful that my body clock has had this reset,where the night owl is hooting in the winter dark hours before dawn.  Truthfully,  I love autumn and winter and the long hours of darkness. It does make me wonder if I will be up in the ambrosial hours making poetry at 4am during the the long days of midsummer though! It does seem like the Poetry Daily is now a fixture of my life and, having passed the three month mark of writing and posting daily there is no sign of abatement yet.

Also, I am grateful for this pre-dawn quiet, gathering time, in what is a season of overwhelment. There are guests coming and menus to be planned and provisioned. There is a concert to be rehearsed and delivered. There are greetings to be sent near and far. There are the loose ends of projects to sign off on before the Great Feast and the annual shut down that happens here in Ireland between Christmas and New Year (except if you work in retail!)

But each morning, it is just me and the snoozing old dog, and maybe a hungry cat mooching for early breakfast. I make tea and then face the blank page. I wait to see what will turn up for the Poetry Daily.

The Gift

These are the quiet hours
where we can hear
our own heart beat
in the silence and the darkness,
where only dreams can speak
of our loves and our losses
so eloquently.
They weave that tapestry
from our own anxiety.

These are the quiet hours
where dawn beckons
and makes us wait and wait
through this long, chill dark.
Like good children waiting
for the Big Beardy Man
in a red suit and black boots
we stay hushed.

This waiting time is magical.
Anything, but anything
might turn up! And be a gift.


Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Advent Wreath Candle Lighting

advent wreath

Over the past two weeks I have been posting a poem (or a little song if you prefer to carol your candles) for the Advent Wreath or Sun Wheel Wreath, depending upon whether you are following the Christian or Pagan wreath and candle lighting December ritual. If you are Christian, this is Gaudete Sunday and you will be lighting the pink candle for joy. You can find my little advent ode to joy here https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/09/advent-wreath-weekly-poem/.

For those following the Sunwheel Wreath, this is the final Sunday before Winter Solstice, which falls on 21st December this year. Then I will light the central white candle in the wreath. The waiting will be over. The sun is being reborn. The axis is turning towards the light again here in the Northern Hemisphere. Tonight at sunset I will light all four candles, the final candle being for peace.

Light a Candle for Peace

I light a candle for peace
and pray for unity.
I light a candle for peace
that we may live in harmony.

I light a candle for peace,
for the homeless and refugee.
I light a candle for peace
for all who live in tyranny.

I light a candle for peace,
to clothe the naked and feed the hungry.
I light a candle for peace
cherishing all who walk in beauty.

Light a candle for peace!
Light a candle for peace!
Light a candle for peace
to bless the dark.
Light a candle for peace
to bless its spark.
Light a candle for peace
so we all may hark.




In case you feel like singing the poem as you light your wreath. You can find the video and tune  at this link. on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/Df3J08djsYg.

This material is copyright free, so you may share and use with a clear conscience.

Let the light so shine!

Advent Wreath Weekly Poem

advent wreath

Two weeks ago I began lighting a Sunwheel wreath, which is a pagan version of the Advent Wreath where we light the final candle on Winter Solstice (this year 21st/22nd depending on your location on the planet) instead of Christmas Day. Beth Owl Daughter popularised this custom. This is the season of darkness no matter what your spiritual persuasion or religious affiliation. Jews will be coming to the end of the eight day celebration of Hanukkah, lighting the final candle on the menorah tomorrow, 10th December. It is a human impulse to light a match to a candle wick or an oil lamp in the dark time of year.

Christians will light the second candle  for Love this week. You can find that poem in last week’s post (https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/01/advent/) Meanwhile, pagans will be lighting the solitary pink candle for joy at sundown tonight. When these Sunwheel/Advent wreath poems came to me I heard them with a wee tune in my ‘inner ear.’ Last week I posted a video just in case you feel like singing the poem as you light your wreath. You can find the video and tune  at this link. on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/Df3J08djsYg.

So here’s to you…some Joy.

Joy

I light a candle for joy
to celebrate with glee.
I light a candle for joy
for all the states of ecstasy.

I light a candle for joy
praying that all shall be happy.
I light a candle for joy
so elation may shine brightly.

I light a candle for joy
though the world can make you weary.
I light a candle for joy
that we may be less proud and haughty.

Light a candle for joy!
Light a candle for joy!
Light a candle for joy
to bless the dark.
Light a candle for joy
to bless its spark.
Light a candle for joy
so we all may hark.

Let the candle flames blaze with our good intentions this sundown.



Advent

advent wreath

Last Sunday I wrote about the tradition of the Advent or Sunwheel wreath in my blog.https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/11/25/long-nights-short-days. Advent translates as arrival, or a coming.  Tonight at sunset our Jewish friends will light the first candle on the Hanukkah menorah. Christians will light the first candle of their Advent wreath. We are all celebrating light in a dark season. We are blessing the light, rather than curse the dark.

Traditional Christian Advent wreaths are three purple and one pink candle, with a central white one with the arrival on Christmas Day. Each candle has a symbolic meaning. The first week is lit for hope, or prophecy. The second week is for love, the third for joy and the last week is peace. Although some churches may celebrate peace in week two and love in week four.

Pagans lit their Sunwheel candles last Sunday at sunset.  I observe the traditional Christian symbolism each week.  So I lit a candle for hope last Sunday and will light one for love and hope at sunset tonight. So today’s Poetry Daily offers Christians a little poem/song for Hope and Pagans a poem for Love. It came to me like a humming along to a traditional English folk tune. See if you can find your own melody.

I am deliberately not putting a copyright notice on these poem/chants. They are public. Please use them wherever you feel they are appropriate.

Light a Candle for Hope

I light a candle for hope
for faith and prophecy.
I light a candle for hope,
for it to set us free.

I light a candle for hope
when I feel angry.
I light a candle for hope,
when we all can agree.

I light a candle for hope,
for life can be blowy.
I light a candle for hope
as I sip my cup of tea.

Light a candle for hope!
Light a candle for hope!
Light a candle for hope
to bless the dark.
Light a candle for hope
to bless its spark.
Light a candle for hope
that we all might hark.



Light a Candle for Love

I light a candle for love
to cast out fear.
I light a candle for love
to warm our hearts, my dear.

I light a candle for love
in days austere.
I light a candle for love
of the whole unisphere.

I light a candle for love
though you might think it queer.
I light a candle for love
to clear the atmosphere.

Light a candle for love!
Light a candle for love!
Light a candle for love
to  bless the dark.
Light a candle for love
to bless its spark.
Light a candle for hope
that we all might hark.

Here is a wee video of the tune that was playing in my head as I composed the poems.

https://youtu.be/Df3J08djsYg