Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday - Susan Cooper (b.1935)

The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper

And 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 now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

Unbeknownst to me until a few days ago, this poem was written by children's author Susan Cooper for The Christmas Revels, an annual celebration that takes place in Cambridge, MA, each year. If you're ever in the Harvard Square area in December, I highly recommend seeing and hearing this ever-changing group of performers.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Author Amok. Be sure to check out my tongue-in-cheek original holiday poem, as well, at my other blog, Rockhound Place.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poetry Friday - Linda Kroll

from Winter, Awake!
by Linda Kroll

The sun hung low in southern skies.
The days grew short; then nights were long,
With bright Orion striding high
Above the quiet farms and towns.
At last the harvest work was done.
The stalks of corn were stacked in shocks.
Potatoes, pumpkins, apples, plums
Were picked and canned and stored and packed.
The wren and robin young were grown.
Their songs had ceased; the flocks were gone.
Great vees of geese had honked good-bye.
The monarch butterflies had flown.
But still fall lingered, fair and fine,
With misty mornings, hazy days,
While waiting nature watched for hints
Of cutting cold and biting winds,
For sullen skies of snowy flakes.

But Winter would not wake.

This is the text on the first page of Linda Kroll's and Ruth Lieberherr's beautiful book, Winter Awake. The rest of this lovely poem and gorgeous illustrations fill the book, which is perfect for this time of year here in New England. The weather keeps flip-flopping, and only the tiniest little flakes of snow have been seen, much to my children's chagrin. But the signs are all around. The trees are mostly bare, the geese have come and gone, the tops of ponds are slushy even when daytime temperatures reach fifty degrees. We're looking forward to celebrating the solstice here in just a little over two weeks, so books like Winter, Awake are at the top of our list of favorite winter books.

Other wintery books that are either books of poetry or poetic in nature that we like include A Snowflake Fell--Poems about Winter (compiled by Laura Whipple; illustrated by Hatsuki Hori), Winter Poems (selected by Barbara Rogasky; illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman), Winter Lights--A Season in Poems & Quilts (by Anna Grossnickle Hines), Winter King, Summer Queen (written by Mary Lister; illustrated by Diana Mayo), and Winter Lullaby (by Barbara Seuling; illustrated by Greg Newbold). I'll be posting more of our favorite winter and holiday books soon. Happy December, everyone!

Poetry Friday is being hosted today at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books.