Winter Solstice poems: Old Irish/Mother Goose!

I have news for you

(9th century Irish)

I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds’ wings;
season of ice, this is my news

In the Green Wood from Mother Goose
(making the fire)

Oak-logs will warm you well,
That are old and dry;
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly.
Birch-logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn-logs are good to last –
Catch them in the fall.
Holly-logs will burn like wax,
You may burn them green;
Elm-logs like to smoldering flax,
No flame to be seen.
Beech-logs for winter time,
Yew-logs as well;
Green elder-logs it is a crime
For any man to sell.
Pear-logs and apple-logs,
They will scent your room,
Cherry-logs across the dogs
Smell like flower of the broom.
Ash-logs, smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way –
Worth their weight in gold.

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Winter Solstice, “Three Trees at Solstice”, Mary Finn

Three Trees at Solstice

Comes with autumn the spent moment,
When, polarized to stillness,
The soul thereafter waits on death
As oaks on winter
As oaks by winter water.
So stands the sun for springing and failing time;
And a life ending is less than a stream failing
Until, sunk deep in a white meander —
Black clouds come down like swans at brood,
And flows again the white water.

The silver tree of the stream
Fails not for the sea,
Nor for the thirst-hewn rocks of the valley;
But fails the red, bright tree
In each man’s breast—
Drooping to winter’s rest;
Fails the yellow tree
Of each day’s light—
Fails from sight,
Fails in the west.

Mary Finnin

A Book of Australian Verse edited by Judith Wright

Caribou. Indigenous Winter Poem. Winter Solstice story telling! — complete now!

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Photo credit: unknown.

When lake froze in winter,
When Caribou came,
It was just like horses, same.
You could hear their feet making noise,
Making noise [imitates hoofs on ice].
Lots of caribou covered up these hills.

I want to talk about this story,
old people tell this story.

One time, caribou took people
That man had a little bit of doctor, I guess;
Well, caribou took him.

Everybody felt bad: he was gone.
His wife was left alone.

Right in the middle of the lake, they heard caribou singing his song.
People don’t know what to do —
They tried to get him.

One man said, “Well,let’s go. We’re going to try.”
Yeah!

NGS Picture ID:696517
Photo: Paul Nicklen. National Geographic.

They’ve got bow and arrow, that’s all — they have no gun yet.
It was a long time ago, I guess.
They heard that man’s song.
I think it was wintertime.
Wintertime.

That caribou just lay down in the middle of that ice.

All the time he stayed in the middle.
For a long time, they watched him.
Whenever they tried to come to that caribou, all the time he watched them.
He looked from person to person.
And all the time he didn’t sleep.

One man told them he was going to do it.
Then he sneaked in. [She shows how he wrestled with the caribou and held it down.]

The caribou spoke:
‘You smell,” he told people.

Well that man knew how to talk to caribou.
“What about your kids,” they asked him.
“Your kids are crying for you,” his own brother told him.
“What’s wrong with you?”

He couldn’t help it.
So they brought him. They brought him home.
They took him home!
I guess his wife is glad: he’s got kids too!
His wife came, and his kids.
He held his kids’ hands, but for his wife, nothing.
He doesn’t know her yet.

Well, they took him back.
They told him.
Then they watched him.
They made a camp for it [away from the human camp].

Somebody watched him there.
He wanted to go!
He doesn’t eat their food — he eats only willows.
You know what that means!
But they kept him the other side of the fire.

Then he came back to person.
But he can’t hunt caribou anymore.

This was way before my time, but I saw lots of caribou.
they came back, caribou.
All this mountain was covered by caribou.
Used to be we had caribou not too long ago when my kids were growing up.

One time lots of caribou fell through the ice, one lake.
I called my husband back to get the meat.
My mother-in-law came to get the skins.
She got enough that time: she had her son with her.
They are hard to clean when they fall in that way
That’s the last time that caribou came this way.
That’s the last time we saw caribou come.

But they didn’t come back. How come?
That man came back to person.
Then he knew where moose are, where caribou are.
He tells them, but he can’t hunt them.

That’s the last time caribou came this way.
Since then nothing.

After Skookum Jim found gold everything changed.
White people came to this country.
White people learned everything from Indians.
Now they want the whole thing, the land!
I’ve got 64 grandchildren in this Yukon.
I worry about them, what’s going to happen?
White people, where’s their grandpa? Their grandma?
Indians should have their own land
To be continued

From: Life Lived Like a Story
Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders
Julie Cruikshank. UBC Press.

Library in Toronto: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM521988&R=521988

Order online:
– New: http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=444
– Used: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=Life+Lived+Like+a+Story

 

Canadian geographic
Photo: Canadian National Geographic.

caribou_kusawa
Photo: Milo Burcham

More moons haiku. Winter Solstice moon. Spring moon.

I shift my pillow
closer to the
full moon.

Saiba 1858 (Tr. Hoffmann)

Winter seclusion;
listening, that evening,
to rain in the mountains

Moon, plum blossoms,
this, that,
and the day goes.

Issa

Sitting all alone
facing a still white paper:
behind me the moon

An evening guest—
the girl flings open a window
in comes the moon

The clouds hide the moon—
nursing her twins a mother
in the thick darkness.

Vasile Moldovan