Inspired by conversations with friends about the Winter Solstice, and the old notion that we Pagans keep vigil fires lit on the Solstice in the belief that the Sun would not rise again unless we did: I post this poem for you. I wrote it for the Winter Solstice a few years ago.
I have heard it said the sun will not rise again
if we sleep, if we
do not keep the vigil fire lit.
I wonder at this certainty:
Where the sun journeys in the long dark,
on what road traveling down the hidden ways,
can my signal fire reach him?
And whose voice is it echoing
in the black well of time
that turns the burning face of the sun
toward this earth again?
Long moments wane in the still night.
I am certain of few things:
Winter’s hand chills the door of my house.
It would be a mean season
but for these resolute, ardent
fires in our hearts and hearths.
I cannot tell if this fire warms the blind reaches
of winter’s deep cloak where the sun sleeps.
But I know the longing for heat and joy brings
us here to wake through the watches of the night,
not alone, but kindling together
our faith in the incandescent sun.
I am certain of the nameless age this earth
has turned always, ripe to cold to ripe again;
through which age if the sun had not
risen faithfully, aeon without number,
with yet no human tribe to call him home,
I would not now sit here burning the bones
of trees nursed from nut to leaf to arch by
this sun through long seasons, never failing
to rise when the earth called for day.
No, I think it is not we who will rekindle the hidden sun.
We keep the vigil fire in the hearth to
keep vigilant the flame that illuminates the heart.
It is we who have departed through long
toil and forgetting,
we who need calling back from shadow to rejoice with new eyes,
naked from gazing on the darkness,
now seeing as if new the sun’s radiant daily birth.
It is not the people calling who compel
the sun to wing back toward the spring,
however sweet may be our longing or how
bright may be our song;
this my heartbeat tells me.
For I know what impels the sun to bloom again each year:
It is the force that drives the rushing tide, that splits
the nut, that lifts both sap and blood;
it is the thunder of life surging through us all,
the urgent, wild, unyielding hunger to rise,
to rise again.
(c) 2008 Morpheus Ravenna