Merry midwinter

The longest night holds sway as we are once again halfway out of the darkness. I have been working on a Yuletide poem for several years, in dribs and drabs - usually adding a verse and then getting sidetracked and forgetting about it again for another year. I thought I would post it here as a work in progress, in the hope that it will help to keep it in focus for me and I might actually finish it!
It's a narrative poem inspired by Russian folklore of Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) but with elements of Irish lore worked in, for no more sensible reason than that the story is flowing in that direction.




Grandfather Frost


“Sleep my son, sleep, on this darkest eve,
Outside the White Maidens flakes do weave;
Warps of ice, wefts of snow;
Let silence flow, unto midnight cleave”.

“Rest has flown, the night is far too deep
Tell me a story to help me sleep -
Yarns of frost, chords of rime
To freeze time whilst nightmares outside creep.”

Snow-heaped rafters creak, the timbers groaned,
Outside the wind its razor edge honed,
Sculpts idols lost to sight,
Gods of frozen light whose hymns intoned

By wolf and belling stag echo still
In cathedrals of wood, the choir’s skill
Grants to the fearful mind
Forms to which eye is blind, winter’s quill

Transforms bare trees into works of art -
Ice giants looming, a live rampart.
Amidst the ents he lands,
Grandfather Frost stands on his sled-cart.

Six the snow-dogs that pull the old lord:
Great-paw, Long-tail, Red-flash and Fang-sword,
Four brothers paired, ice-eyed,
Eager, the huskies ride as a horde.

Flame-fur and Snow-song leading the pack,
Warbling and restless, churning the track,
They watch Grandfather go,
Pristine snow undisturbed by boots black.
Cyan robes cut from a frozen sea,
Sagas stitched in silver thread are key
To knowing the pale sage -
Still heart of blizzard’s rage, waits with glee.

Ancient is he, Lord of the Ice Age,
Culler of the unloved, not harsh mage
But healer of the tired
Takes the expired on to their next stage.

“Father, where does he dwell, this strange sprite
Who rides with dogs in the dead of night?
Not fearful but so wild.”
The boy smiled, snug and safe from frostbite.

So his sire described the ice-built Hall
Where lived Grandfather ~ called Summer’s Fall
By his dearest grandchild,
Where snow dogs, wild bears, and seals held thrall.

There his seat since the Age of Great Beasts.
Joyful mortals partake in his feasts,
Most of all solstice night
When Earth’s might is praised by pagan priests.
“See, a boy of ten runs to the sled,
Takes a seat with the dogs, at the head.
It could be you, my lad;
How glad he is to chase the white thread!”

“The what?” asked the child, wide-eyed in his bed.
“The path down which all hope is led,
Old Frost’s dogs love the scent.
Veil rent by his blade, gives them their head.”

Sled bells jangling, dogs yipping, they ride
Through the rift, sealing behind they glide
Deep into winter’s realm,
Old Frost at the helm, the stars their guide.

Comments

  1. This is beautiful. I love the names of the snow-dogs and Grandfather Frost's robes of frozen sea. I think lots of us could do with a ride down that white thread of hope right now!

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