Friday, December 23, 2011

In the Cemetery at the Winter Solstice


Yesterday heralded in the Winter Solstice – the first day of winter, the shortest day, and the longest night of the year.  It is a day celebrated all over the world in many different ways.
 
In ancient times, Winter Solstice festivals were the last celebrations held before the deep, hard winter began. There was plenty of food and wine, for now, – and hopes that all would survive the coming famine months until spring arrived again.

It seems only fitting that we spend a few moments at this time of year in quiet reflection in the cemetery.  As the snow falls silently around us, our thoughts turn to life and death, to the past and the future, to what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained.  These poems seem to sum up those sentiments especially well.

In Beechwood Cemetery


Here the dead sleep – the quiet dead.  No sound
Disturbs them ever, and no storm dismays.
Winter mid snow caresses the tired ground,
And the wind roars about the woodland ways.
Springtime and summer and red autumn pass,
With leaf and bloom and pipe of wind and bird,
And the old earth puts forth her tender grass,
By them unfelt, unheeded and unheard.
Our centuries to them are but as strokes
In the dim gaunt of some far-off chime.
Unaltering rest their perfect being cloaks 
A thing too vast to hear or feel or see Children of Silence and Eternity,
They know no season but the end of time.
                                    ~ Archibald Lampman
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An Old Cemetery


The mists swirl, the moon shines bright.
No one dares stray here.
They would never desire to,
Unless the earth covers what they hold dear.

Bodies sleep subconsciously
In the presence of their God,
Singing silent songs that decompose,
Under the wild earth their restless souls trod.



The headstones stand pale and somber,
Reflecting the white aurora’s glow.
Memories play like broken records,
Trapped inside, echoing lethargic tones.

The world’s slow spin cradles them to sleep.
Heavy eyelids come to rise no more.
A thousand sunsets dwindle and pass
Lives that mortality ripped and tore.
                                    ~ Jana Rininger

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This poem was written by a teenage author, only identified as swoopingpigeons from New York at http://www.teenink.com/poetry


Snow on Cemetery Stones



I watch as nature masks herself In flakes of snow that leap, from heights
They fall in endless tandem
Hiding her unveiled cruelty.
In winter’s months when all is bare,
No flowers to distract looking eyes,
We see the gravestones wearing away
And the remainder of unfinished good-byes,

We see nature’s curse and her destruction
In the words once legible.
‘Will’ who preferred ‘William’
Is now ‘Wil’ with one ‘L’ left alive.

And what of the rest of us
Who walk the world still,
Will she shroud our names in supposed beauty,
And leave all that we are
To become all that we once were.
                                    ~ swoopingpigeons

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And one of my winter favorites!  Although not written about a cemetery, the woods also offer that forlorn feeling of the unexpected and the unfinished.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening


Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.



My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.



He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.



The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

                           ~ Robert Frost



And now the season is at a close - Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

~ Joy