Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice and a Poem for the Longest Night

(This is my post from last year. It continues to get many hits, especially this week, so I decided to re-post it for today)


This day marks the time of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is no accident that Christmas, which celebrates the Light of the world in the coming of Christ, and Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, both come at mid winter when people have for ages celebrated the joy of light on the darkest day of the year. There are many festive Christmas lights adorning homes, shrubs and trees in my neighborhood this year. 

Here is a poem I wrote several years ago after contemplating some of those ancient times and thinking about how fire and light calls to something universal and cosmic within us. 2,500 years ago, maybe even 3,000 years ago, after people in Persia had organized themselves into cities, Zarathustra (or Zoroaster) became the prophet of Ahura Mazda (the Wise Lord) and Zoroastrianism became the first urban religion. A central ritual was something called the fire sacrifice which Zarathustra may have borrowed from even older religious practices. Thinking about these primitive beginnings inspired me to write the following poem.



 To Zarathustra
       
        Did the Wise Lord request an offering of fire?
        Or did we simply want to share
           our deepest fascination,
        Watching the fire split the night
        As an echo to the distant stars?
       
        Our hearts danced as our hands trembled
        Before the carefully contained flames
        As fire without
        Called to fire within.
        We made for ourselves lights in the night
        As we began to find our way.
       
        Today the fire is surging.
        It trembles beneath the surface
        And flashes into the open.
        Day is cast forth into the night
        As the energy lines our streets,
        Flickers in our cinemas,
        Flashes upon our billboards
        And flutters in our homes.
       
        Did anyone request an offering of fire?
        Or did we simply want to share
           our deepest fascination?

                                           Charles Kinnaird          






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