12.20.2017

Poem: "Holy Wintertide"

Image by MjZ Photography via Flickr (CC)

Holy Wintertide
By: Eve Estelle

O, glist'ning stars that fall at eve
From heaven's vault to Earth,
Borne upon the northerlies
This night of blessed birth;
Spellbinding as th' fine cadencies
Adrift on winds of mirth --

Hear the Virtues sing to thee!
Come now, O weary traveler,
Thou art welcome 'round this hearth;
Lo, panes shine like the holy Son,
Off'ring refuge from the cold --
Bright beacons burning, ne'er gone,
Calling to the bells --

The bells that toll for thee!
Dost thou yet fear ye Old Man,
Among his wand'ring dead?
Ah, see lucidly again;
The morrow falls with a bitter chill,
How swift away we ran.



Author's note (pardon the wall, lots of info here!):  

| Click here for some lovely, atmospheric music to listen to alongside this! |


A very Merry Christmas to you and all who celebrate it! Do you have a fun story about your past or present holiday adventures? Go forth and share it in the comments! I'd love to hear it!

Now, remember that poem I said I was working on last holiday season? Well, I'd be surprised if you did. Anyway, looks like I'm right on time with my Updates & Snippets prediction, the post in which I said that, at the rate I was going, it would be next Christmas before it'd be finished. Here we are lol.

But since I sort of, ah, accidentally yet wholly embraced that old-fashioned language, I figured I'd elaborate on a few more things than I usually do... And if you'd like a more modern "translation" of this piece, let me know. I'll cook one up.


Inspiration

Originally, and still partially, this poem was based on the rhythm and meter of the English carol, "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen." 

It was going to follow the same rhyme scheme, stress pattern, and syllable count. The first stanza adheres, for the most part, to this structure (I suppose it might depend on which version of the song you're going on, too), but it deviates throughout most of the rest.

However, I did want to maintain that ye olde Christmas feel, and I hope I didn't overdo the archaisms (old, outdated, fancy language like "thou," "thee," "dost," "art..."). It's easy to do that, and tricky to balance -- I've heard mixing archaic words with modern ones is a bad idea, so I tried for consistency (A.K.A., a $@%&ton of old words).


References, Allusions, Christmas Traditions

(Although I like to believe in some of the basics of Christianity, I'm really not all that religious, so please feel free to correct me on any mistakes I've made. All of the below points relate to the Christian faith [they may have additional applications].)

  • Boiled down, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Therefore, the line "This night of blessed birth" is a reference to both of these events.
  • In traditional Christian angelology, the Virtues, also called Strongholds, are an order of angels within the celestial hierarchy (nine angelic orders ranked from lowest to highest; see this helpful page & infographic for a simple rundown). These angels are said to be responsible for miracles, and they govern much, if not all, of nature and movement within the universe; including the seasons and the stars.
    • (Though many sources I found agree, the "governors of nature/the universe" part appears somewhat inconclusive.)
  • The same line referencing the Virtues (as well as others) can also be seen as unintentional allusions to numerous well-known Christmas carols, including, for instance, "O Holy Night" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." This, however, is just a fun little extra, and was not purposefully done.
  • Though today window candles are generally put out simply as pretty decorations, they once held (and for some, still hold) all kinds of special significance. One such meaning, outside of the holidays as well as within, is that of a burning candle in the window being seen as a beacon and sign of welcome to others (see this article for more). As a Christmas tradition (at least in the US), holiday candle lighting generally comes from an old Irish tradition.
    • (Please note here that I'm referring to specific tradition(s), and that cultures and religions, etc., throughout the world have similar traditions, but for all sorts of different reasons!)
  • Similar to the first bullet point, "holy Son" refers to Jesus. It's a play on the same-sounding words "son" and "sun."
  • [The following is not related to religion, but to winter.] The line, "Dost thou yet fear ye Old Man" ("Do you still fear the Old Man") is a reference to Old Man Winter, a well-known personification of the winter season.

As always, please don't hesitate to bring to my attention any errors, confusing parts, etc. I'll happily clear them up, and modify if needed. :) Constructive feedback = win.

4 comments:

  1. This is really good! If I'd read this while I was home for Christmas it'd totally give me the good time jolly feelies.

    I also love how you seem to tinker with your poetry. Like a wordsmith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh, you've got to tinker! Always! :D Tinkering is where you really start to learn and have fun with it all.

      Thank you, Christian, and a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Phoebe!

      Delete

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