Posted by: John Looker | 7 June, 2010

MIDSUMMER NIGHT, A USER’S GUIDE

Midsummer night is celebrated in many countries, with traditional rites and customs. This poem is based on recollections of an evening in Denmark 12 years ago.


MIDSUMMER NIGHT,   A USER’S GUIDE

Listen: perhaps we’ll hear

the cold, pewter-coloured sea,
slapping on a Danish shore.

It’s late. The light is dying
slowly – imperceptibly –
and now the eye picks out

along the coast,
across the many fields,
the presence of bonfires, banishing primal fears.

Each one is ringed by ancient silhouettes,
tankards raised, singing as the pale sun sets.

Summer has crept to its own high-tide limit
where it lingers for weeks
before finally – stealthily –

ebbing away. Why do we note
this day rather than others,
all so hard to distinguish?

Turning our backs against the night,
draining our mead, we master

the things that we can.
© John Stevens 2010

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Responses

  1. A lovely poem, John; lyrical, mystical, highly evocative but beautifully controlled. Thank you for sharing what’s obviously a very special memory!

    Like

  2. I am really digging your talent…
    “Turning our backs against the night,
    draining our mead, we master

    the things that we can.”

    Like

  3. There are so many good images in this, John, that I feel hesitant to comment at all. The images first off: “the cold, pewter-coloured sea,
    slapping on a Danish shore” or “ringed by ancient silhouettes,” the mystery spiraling back, at least in my mind, to the time of Hamlet, where bonfires could banish the primal fears of darkness, coming battle, and the fear of death of loved ones gone to sea, and then the mystical sense of time past and time to come, ending in the question, why do we remember this day and not another? Then we turn our backs to metaphorical and real night and “master/the things we can.”

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    • I hadn’t thought of Hamlet (thank you for that!) but certainly I had in mind the past, maybe the Vikings, and our insecurities down the ages and today. I’m very glad you liked it.

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  4. Now at the time solstice, a truly lovely poem to read, John. Indeed, we continue to try to ” master the things that we can”….

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