The winter solstice is nearly here my friends, and as we all know it is downhill all the way after that…
Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?
From T S Eliot ‘Little Gidding’ (the last of the quartets)
MORE ARTWORKS UNDER 1000 POUNDS
However, spring itself is, it seems, just around the corner. Suitably one viking-influenced landscape begets some Norse verse…
Wind and water raged with storms, wave and shingle were shackled in ice…until another year appeared in the yard as it does to this day, the seasons constant, the wonder of light coming over us. Then winter was gone, earth’s lap grew lovely…longing woke in the cooped-up exile for a voyage home.
From ‘Beowulf’ (translated by S Heaney)
We have a number of new ‘Winter Vessels’ and assorted colourful delights by Sara Moorhouse. With scarce light on a December day, these are a feast for the eye:
Or you can always bring the sunshine in with one of Lara Scobie’s coruscating gilded interiors.
And as I watch the hardy Christmas market enthusiasts amble past the window, the view takes in a little gem by Anthony Scullion:
In honour of today’s marvelous winter sunshine, a piece which is a wee bit out of the 1000 pound bracket…
And finally, a winter favourite….
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy
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