The train is late Very, very late Making everyone sigh and grumble Making every stomach rumble Creeping past endless white fields and forests Blanketed by a coal black cloudy sky Begging the question if there even is a destination Or if we’ll just keep traveling for the rest of life’s duration
The dawn sky is heavenly blue We soar thought it together now Forgotten are the storms that blew The dawn sky is heavenly blue Our love are forevermore true This our solemn hearts and souls vow The dawn sky is heavenly blue We soar thought it together now
Why such a short piece today? Chalk it up to not being attentive enough. I spent quite a long time working on a poem, sacrificing sleep. And when I wrote it up to send away I realized I’d written to the wrong art piece. How come? Well, what comes after 9? 10 of course! Unless it’s a file named with just numbers. Then 11 comes after 9. And where do 10 end up? After 1. So would 100 and 1000, 20 comes after 2 and 30 after 3, and so on and so forth. Confusing? You bet ya!
So, I quickly threw together a Triolet and comforted myself with the fact that today I’ll have time I didn’t count on to work on a poem slated for submission later in the month.
Holy Midwinter Night Your long dark cold is hard Lonely stars sparkle and shimmer Dream dust glimmer on all sleeping In house and barn, the dog in the lonely yard Lending light to inky night, hours deep Think toiling late into midnight hours
Vigil kept by the Moon Bathed in her silver boon, as she wanders her silent whir Midwinter night, when the snow glows white painting on pine and fir Inky shadows and bright light, as snow glows white Shimmering stars on roof thatch All dreaming, only Tomten keeps watch
In the snowy night all is silent Gaia sleeping is White blanket over wood and plain Hiding all life Snug in barrows, as out there All is still, all is frozen
Slowly from afar only The murmur of the waterfall Dreamt as much as heard Winters death as slow soughing
To thrumming of deep meaning Tomten listens, half awake and half in a dream Midwinter Night’s eternal seem Giving visions to hear The ebb and flow, life’s echo, of the eternal time stream
Tomten wonders, from where life came and where it’s going Tomten wonders, if Gods or humans where the source of where the world is is flowing
I had a different vision. But the influence of Tomten was undeniable. And I felt the kind, caring gaze of the farmwifes of my childhood. Living in just that type of isolated farm. Learning me old folktales mostly forgot. They would have smiled at my folly. Hugged me. And told me, if I put myself in the attention of the unseen, I’d best be willing to pay my due. So, I sent a message via my muse that all I wanted was to share the wonder of Midwinter, to give Tomten his chance to deep brooding and rest. Without all those Lutheran work ethic lessons.
The poem is a Golden Shovel. The last words of each line are, in order, words from a line or lines taken, another poem. For my piece I choose the first and the penultimate verse of Tomten by Viktor Rydberg. I started with translating them, since I found no translation I thought good enough. Below you’ll find those two verses.
Midwinternight’s cold is hard Stars sparkle and shimmer All sleeping in the lonely yard Deep into midnight hours The Moon wanders her silent whir The snow glows white on pine and fir Snow glows white on roof thatch Only tomten keeps watch
Silent is wood and plain, all life out there is frozen From afar only the waterfall Heard as slow soughing Tomten listens, and half in a dream seem to hear the eternal time stream Wonders, where it’s going Wonders, where the source is flowing
After untold hours reading I decided to keep the Swedish word Tomte. Even Astrid Lindgrens prose version from 1961 is titled “The Tomten”. Simply because there is no equivalent in English. Tomten is neither gnome, goblin, elf or Robin Goodfellow as in this old translation. Tomten might be mischievous or outright revengeful if treated badly. But mostly he was seen as part of the place, a valued knowledgeable farmer, a paragon of Lutheran work ethics.
Today we see Tomten with a red cap, but Tomten of old was not so garishly dressed – then everyone would have seen him all the time. The poems second verse start with – “Stands there so gray by the barn door, gray against the white drift”
There is also the word Nisse, which today is much conflated with Santa’s Elves. Anyhow, a Nisse was so to speak, never the Tomte in charge on a farm, at least in Sweden.
Today I’m trying a new poet form, thanks to today’s prompt, the hay(na)ku. Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince Gotera, the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words.