Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

A Merry Christmas from the SPL and Liz Lochhead

Image: Snow-Sunset-Light by Chris, under a Creative Commons licence 

A Christmas treat exclusively for readers of the SPL blog. Liz Lochhead, former National Poet for Scotland and forever friend of the SPL, has penned a poem for the ‘Spirit of Light ‘ project, a celebration in music and song that combines the sacred and the secular in an illuminating new work composed by Tommy Smith, Kurt Elling, and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra this December. Liz has very kindly allowed us to feature the poem on our website, so enjoy!

Spoken Song

These are the shortened days
and the endless nights.

Carol Ann Duffy, from Mean Time (1993)

Gloomy December.
The doldrum days of the dead of winter.
These are the shortest days
and the endless nights.
So wish for the moon
and long for the light.

Chill winds. Relentless rain.
Dark to go to work in, darkness home again.
But, given just one fine day of sun and sharp, clean frost,
our lost, maybe long lost
Faith -- if for nothing more than the year’s turning --
comes back like the light comes back.
A promise in our bleak midwinter yearning
once in a rare and clear blue noon
if we wish for the moon.

Till then, the light’s soul and spirit
is locked in its absence
and our longing for it.

Whether you believe, with the Magi, in their miracle --
Three Kings bow down low before the Child of Light --
or whether we think them Wise Men on a fool’s errand,
their gifts useless, magnificent, precious,
who came following one star and its faltering gleaming
till they came to the place,
it was a brave as well as a cold coming.
Yes.
And whether it was a refugee waif
or the Saviour that was born,
whether some shepherds on the night-shift
saw angels, or a meteor storm…

Believe in the light’s soul and spirit
that’s in its absence
and our longing for it.

Category: poems