Mammoth winter tidings

woolly mammoth

A woolly mammoth (by me) and a poem for winter solstice.

To Winter

O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs,
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his sceptre o’er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch, that deal’st
With storms; till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.

William Blake (1757–1827)

Advertisements

Fox Fire

arctic fox v5-small

Happy Winter Solstice!

As the aurora borealis has been lighting up the skies here in the UK, it is wonderful to find out they are associated with the northern fox in Finland. The northern lights in Finland are called revontulet, ‘Fox Fire’. One Finnish tale tells us that they are the result of a fox up north running through the snow. As it dashes along the fox sweeps it’s tail over the snow which creates sparks that leap into the sky forming the aurora.

The arctic fox also takes on the role of fox wife among the Inuit peoples of Canada and Greenland. Follow this link to a traditional Inuit story about the perils of marrying a fox wife:

http://www.unipka.ca/Stories/Fox_Wife.html

Winter Solstice and ‘A Dirge’

arctic owl illustration

Glad Tidings for Winter Solstice. This arctic owl is the prototype for my Yule 2014 card. It also reflects the sombre words of Rabbie Burns’s Winter: A Dirge (an extract):

The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Robert Burns, 1781