Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Midwinter Night's Lunacy

It just tickles me that today is Winter Solstice and it began with a full lunar eclipse (for the 1st time since 1638!)  Something about that just feels so Celtic and magical.  Personally, I prefer Winter Solstice to Summer -- I like my days short!  Both Winter Solstice and, well all things lunar (especially eclipses) also have so much literary resonance.  A good amount of the poetry, prose and drama I read in graduate school for my thesis on witchcraft in Renaissance literature referenced these two events and their centrality to magical happenings.  Their combined presence makes it feel like a day for magical secrets -- and a favorite poem by Christina Rossetti is what's running through my brain right now, so I post it here for you today:

Winter: My Secret
              Christina Rossetti
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you're too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret's mine, and I won't tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there's none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today's a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro' my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro' my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.

Spring's an expansive time: yet I don't trust
March with its peck of dust,
Nor April with its rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost may wither thro' the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day,
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there's not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
Or you may guess.

...and one more, by Hardy -- to honor the eclipse :)

 At a Lunar Eclipse
          Thomas Hardy
Thy shadow steals along upon the Moon's meek shine 
In even monochrome and curving line 
Of imperturbable serenity. 

How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry 
With the torn troubled form I know as thine, 
That profile, placid as a brow divine, 
With continents of moil and misery? 

And can immense Mortality but throw 
So small a shade, and Heaven's high human scheme 
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies? 

Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show, 
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem, 
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?


  1. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a wonderful Christmas week!

  2. Thank you Amy! I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas as well!

  3. I felt little badly for my son, who had to go to 'real' school in the morning, but I roused the sleeping family and we bundled in robes and coats to see the very slow astronomical show. Then we went in and had cocoa and went to bed. My still-homeschooled daughter dragged the rocker outside and watched intently from half-covered moon to all-covered moon. Happy Solstice to you!

  4. Cybele -- I love that your daughter dragged the rocker outside. If it hadn't been for rain/snow in our area, I'd have had my kiddos out there with me too. We always watch meteor showers lying on our picnic table :)