Winter chimes

For the earthweal solstice bell challenge.


No bells rang here to break up the cloud
with silver sound, the echoing notes
of rivers flowing beneath earth and rock,
weaving veined chords from then
to now and beyond.

Sky squatted dark and heavy-jowled on the hill,
swallowed moon and stars, and how will we know
the time, how measure this great darkness,
how know when it has ended?

No bells rang to summon or alarm,
but the hart, sharp-hoofed, ran about the house
across the weeping grass and leapt the ditch.
Fox slipped through a fox hole, while the rain fell
cold as an empty seat in an empty house.

No bells rang here, no call to bow the head,
only the bull-bellow of the wind
that marks the turning of the world from dark
to light, and whether tomorrow comes bright
or grey as the pits of the sea,
the robin will sing in a poplar tree.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

24 thoughts on “Winter chimes”

  1. I was anticipating your words with my thoughts about the robins! That is my lasting image of my first walks out after quarantine…robins and robins and more robins. They will certainly return. I hope the world is as welcoming. (K)

    1. They are singing their hearts out at the moment. I’m glad yours are too. I hope we just carrying on noticing them. It’s when somebody decides, oh, robins, they’re completely unnecessary, that I shall give up.

  2. Literal solstice would have sudden bells clamoring a return of light — I suppose we have Christmas for that — but the heart listens and sees more subtly and it can find welcome even where it is “cold as an empty seat in an empty house.” The knowledge of hope is I suppose is the thinking heart, that solstice affirmation that “whether tomorrow comes bright / or grey as the pits of the sea, / the robin will sing in a poplar tree.”

      1. He picks up CDs that he ‘thinks’ he recognises. Until we listen to them. He bought a two record set of Josephine Baker because he thought he ‘knew’ Josephine Baker, same style as Nina Simone. He was wrong.

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