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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Shortest Day

Air Date: Week of

Steve Curwood reads a poem by Susan Cooper about the winter solstice.


CURWOOD: It seems that holiday and tradition go together. And here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the past 25 years, folks from all walks of life have gathered to present the Revels: a celebration of the winter solstice in dance and song. Its northern European flavor is a reminder that those in the world who live closest to the poles are most acutely aware of the shortest day, and perhaps the most eager to celebrate the return of the sun. As an environmental journalist, the solstice is a powerful reminder to me of how much we are a part of nature and not apart from it. That the rhythm of our bodies resonates with the movement of the heavens. Our hearts have the circadian rhythm that matches the day, and of course a woman's reproductive system reflects the cycle of the moon. So somehow, when the revelers gather, they're tapping human nature. And with thanks to writer Susan Cooper, here's one of their poems. It's called "The Shortest Day."

So the shortest day came, and the year died. And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing. Dancing. To drive the dark away. They lighted candles in the winter trees. They hung their homes with evergreens. They burned beseeching fires all night long to keep the year alive. When the new day's sunshine blazed awake They shouted, reveling. Through all across the ages you can hear them echoing behind us. Listen. All the long echoes sing the same delight, the shortest day, As promise wakens in the sleeping land. They carol, feast, give thanks. And dearly love their friends. And hope for peace. So do we, here, now. This year and every year. Welcome Yule.



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