Category Archives: Winter

The Garden

I dreamt and in my dream I saw
A garden fair behind a door,
The seat of rest from toil and war.

Within, the streams unending flow
And dryads make the bowers grow
As starry hosts above them glow.

By day th’eternal sunlight shines
And flowers bloom as mystic signs,
While water falls on eglantines.

The lark his morning song uplifts
While Philomel her faery gifts
By night unburthens, as the swifts

Their aerie dance for me perform.
This peaceful place no ghastly storm
Can mar, nor broil nor quake deform.

No fetter, bond nor cruel chain
There was to drag me hence again
For there delight and freedom reign,

While under shady eaves I lay.
At last – no more demands t’obey
No interruptions, just the play

Of wind and light in leafy green
No longer mankind’s tiresome spleen,
But free to be alone, unseen.

And in my dream I dreamt I sought
To see if here were missing aught
For as I ’gan to take some thought,

This place of peace, eternal rest
No longer seemed so perfect, blest
That slowly I grew worried lest

My garden should itself undo.
Then on its gates in ivory hue
I found engraved these letters true:

THE SELF-ENCLOSURE, then below,
Who first considers neighbours foes
Will banish friends and love also.

And though ’twas filled with fancies nice
My garden’s walls were deathly ice
To make a selfish paradise.

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Filed under Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter

Wolstonbury Hill

Steep-sloped earth-walled    storm-beaten hill top,
Weather has worn you,    wars have ravaged
Your ancient sanctuary,    safe place in anarchy
And uncertain times.    Sober chieftains
Of the Down Dales,    their doom unwitting,
Ruled on your heights,    holding sway over
The rolling green;    rising and waning
As their fathers before.    Feast and sacrifice,
Year by year since    yore, returned to
The heroeshall    on hill of chalk.
Your virgin maidens,    from morning dance returning,
Their heads crowned and    crested beautifully
With orchid headdress:    awed and shyly
To their elders glancing;    Your glades of oak,
Where maying lovers    met early by dawn;
Your raised unwrought    ring of eldstones
Where forest and field    folk held mootings,
Are all gone, long gone,    lost in history –
Yesteryear’s unknown.
                                                       And yet – when wind
Blows blustering o’er    your battled peak,
I hear an unseen    hillsong singer;
The haunting voice of    your vigilant past.

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Filed under Autumn, Classical, Medieval, Spring, Summer, Winter

Wintersonnet

The biting wind has made my ears go numb.
No sound escapes from Winter’s freezing spell
which makes the country silent, grey and dumb.
Behind the weathered, leafless oaks a dell
I’m heading for to ‘scape the silent cold.
The dale dips down below the fields now bare,
where beech trees stand around since days of old.
They’re gnarled and bent as if in silent prayer,
reminding me to ask not hills for help,
but cry out desperately to God
to rescue me from Winter’s aches and chills,
his healing hands to hold this heart down trod’.
And when I looked again, Winter’d withdrawn,
God’s joyful Spring arrived with blessèd dawn.
 
tree-winter

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Filed under Winter

Wintersong

frozen-waterfall-normal
 
“ventis glacies adstricta pependit” – Ovid, Metamorphoses
 
As Winter broods on snowy peaks
strong waterfalls begin to freeze
a deer his fodder vainly seeks
and northern winds whip up the seas
 
The longest night beckons clear stars
that pierce the darkness glowing cold
beneath the muffling carpet, grass
has stopped growing all but old
 
A splintering icicle rends the quiet
the startled hind retreats in silvam
where dryads, hid from wind tossed riot,
of heroes sing and lyre strings strum
 
Arising, Luna shines her light
though wat’ry, weak and oft enshroud
tis comfort during callous nights
when Winter’s silence rages loud
 
ventis glacies adstricta pependit: The ice hangs, bound up by the wind
in silvam: into the forest

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Filed under Classical, Night, Winter

Over There

path
Over there, over that hill
lies a vast land that’s still
undiscovered, my son,
heresay that rivers run
like black, black peat
while mists take their seat
on the moors and bogs
full of bogmen and trogs
heresay that strange
creatures still range
upon those moors
only heresay, of course
The hind and the hare
they’ve lived over there
where they sleep
no shadows creep
perhaps only a bear, astray,
who’s lost his way
Imagine, following that path
perhaps, my son, to the end of the earth
Oh, just keep on following that track
before you know it, spring’ll be back
 

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Filed under Autumn, Winter

Nightly Journey

The white winter night
though sparkling coldly
beckons mad and bright
with colours rarely
seen by daylight’s eye
 
Its deep blue purples
uneasily lie by
those emerald gurgles
yet never to touch
whilst intermingling
in stray wisps of sky
hardly perceptible
 
The threshold behind
the cold heightens sense
exciting the mind
 
The lunar air’s tense
while stars illuminate
and softly point out
the humble wicket gate
which pierces all doubt
 
The moon’s rays sing
modest melodies
conscious of their place
in the sky’s symphonies;
the lesser light’s grace
for nightly pilgrims
on their way from night
 
to where darkness dims
and both lights shine bright
with the morning star
who with broken hands
holds the seven stars
 
To that living land
strive, pilgrim, strive!
 

This poem was inspired by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. A good read despite the sometimes old-fashioned language, it is full of simple but effective imagery. It’s an allegory (a story that stands for something else) and has become a classic still read today.  I can recommend it to anyone who wants to read a classic of spiritual creativity.

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Filed under Night, Winter