22 December 2011

'Tis the Year's Midnight, and it is the Day's,

Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
            The world's whole sap is sunk 
These are a few lines from John Donne's A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day (1627). St. Lucy's Day is on 13 December, but the poem deals with the winter solstice. It was formerly believed that St. Lucy's Day was the shortest day of the year, and as such connected with a lot of magic beliefs. I confess I don't understand half of this poem, but I find it strangely haunting. The line that I chose for the title is one of my favourites. The idea of the winter solstice as the year's midnight makes a lot of sense when you live in a northern country. The sun rose at 9.24 am and set at 3.13 pm, so it was scarce six hours that the sun unmasked himself here in Helsinki. North of Rovaniemi the sun doesn't rise above the horizon, so I'm quite happy I saw a few rays of sunshine during my lunch break.

Happy Winter Solstice! 

1 comment:

  1. Today we had the hours of light from 7:23 to 4:15 so you beat us out by quite a lot (or a lot less). It is much less opressive this year due to the warmth and lack of snow. I'm grateful!