Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Imbolc Cyberspace Poetry Slam


Today is Imbolc, a pagan holiday which celebrates, not Spring per se, but rather, the promise of Spring. It is also the sacred day of Brigid the Bright, the Celtic Goddess of (among other things) poetry.

The Imbolc Cyberspace Poetry Slam has been celebrated for quite a few years now by many pagans around the blogosphere. On February 1st (Imbolc Eve) or February 2nd (Imbolc), people post a favourite poem written by themselves or by another poet so that, collectively, a vast internet web of poetry is woven to honour Brigid.

One of Brigid's symbols is the snowdrop which pushes through the winter snow to promise "new beginnings." The poem I've chosen for this year's post is also about the hope and promise of new beginnings after a time of desolation and pain.

Before Dawn, Before Spring
by Lady Tai-Ken
(Japan, 1190)

Is all the earth dead?

Dawn comes earlier each day.

I have been dreaming of crows.

What do the crows say?

There is a gate at the end

of the path; it is shut tight.

Who can open it?

There was a man I loved once.

When he died, the lock rusted.

Has no one come in?

Do I hear a bamboo flute?

Or is it just the spring wind?

What does the wind say?

Light pearls the gate. The crows call.

Oh, the perfume of flowers --


38 comments:

Laurie said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful.❤️

Mike said...

Brigid the Bright has nothing on Debra Goddess of Humanity.

Cynthia said...

I am happy to learn about Imbolc and delighted to read the beautiful poem by the Japanese lady. As I understand it, crows symbolize death in Japanese culture.

Parnassus said...

Hello Debra, Your example of Brigid's snowdrops calls to mind the description from Erasmus Darwin's "Botanic Garden":
.
[Lines addressed to gentle Zephyr in springtime]

"Melt [Frost's] hard heart, release his iron hand,
And give my ivory petals to expand.
So may each bud, that decks the brow of spring,
Shed all its incense on thy wafting wing!"
.
--Jim

Richard said...

Thanks for beautiful poem

Bob said...

After about five gray days we awoke to sunshine and blue skies, though quite cold.
Still, that feels like the promise of Spring.

Liz Hinds said...

That sounds quite sad. But I'm not very good with poetry. I have a bit of brain missing when it comes to understanding poems.

Suz said...

I've never heard of this Pagan holiday; very interesting. The poem IS lovely!

Marie Smith said...

I love that idea of the promise of spring. Good to remember during a snow storm! Happy day to you!

Suz said...

I think your blog ate my comment.
I've never heard of this Pagan holiday; super interesting. I LOVE the poem you've shared.

Boud said...

How lovely, thank you.

pam nash said...

I like that poem - beautiful. I prepared my alter last evening and set out my Goddess to welcome Imbolc. New Beginnings - oh please let be so.

Martha said...

I agree with Liz, I suck at anything to do with poetry lol!

Tundra Bunny said...

Those crows have guilt written all over their faces like they've been caught plotting or gossiping....perhaps that's why they're called a murder? The third crow from the top has a particularly evil look in his eye -- maybe crows dislike depressing poetry too, LOL!

Pussy willows and purple crocuses poking up through melting snow will always mean spring to me, not the furry ass of an albino groundhog...

Happy Imbolc, Debra!

e said...

Imbolc, the most heart-felt cross quarter day! The promise of Spring comes as we lament Winter's grip, and yet, and yet, bulbs push their verdant spears out of the cold Earth and reach up to entreat the Sun.

Longer days and warmer nights come.

John M said...

Seems like a nice holiday.

Guillaume said...

I should celebrate Imbolc and use the term and not Candlemas. And I didn't make pancakes today.

Bill Lisleman said...

Never heard of this celebration of a promise. I could promise a poem but don't hold your breath.

Rosemary said...

Snowdrops are remarkable little flowers in the way that they are able to push their delicate stems and gentle nodding heads out of a thick layer of snow.

Joanne Noragon said...

The poem is beautiful, the crows handsome.

Fundy Blue said...

Lovely, Debra! A I know someone who would love this image. I'm going to slid it on my desktop for her! I'll take the promise of spring! Happy Imbolc!

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Loves it!
Also, Brigid the Bright sounds just... right.

XOXO

Brian Joseph said...

I had never heard of Imbolc before. I would guess that there is some connection to Groundhog Day.

That's a really nice poem.

Magic Love Crow said...

Love! I'm smiling Debra! Big Hugs

Dunstan Skinner said...

At St Bridget's Well, in Liscannor, Co Clare Ireland, there is a figure of the saint in a large glass box. My father calls her Bridget in the phone booth. (What is a phone booth?!) I know her as Brigid, and have her cross, or criss, woven from rushes on my wall. Country people in Ireland still make them on her day (Imbolc). Brigid is sometimes known as Brigid of the Oak, and the Irish words for tree and oak are roughly interchangeable - 'crann' will serve for either. Druids held the oak to be sacred, so I understand. Bridget's legendary/historical origin is as an abbess of Kilkenny. Her historical/saint identity and her old identity as a goddess have seperate identities, and yet there are many overlapping attributes. As far as her identity as a goddess goes, the very ancient ancient name means "to rise" and she is known as the Goddess of Wells. The Holy Well in Liscannor, dedicated to St Bridget, is known for giving people the cure, and I remember as a child how many old and rotting crutches weree to be found at the entrance. I'm certain this well was curing people long, long before Christians arrived in Ireland. One last thing, St Mary's Day comes the day after Imbolc, and it is said that St Mary Immaculate, as she is called, thought so highly of Bridget that she lets her go first.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Dunstan Skinner -- Thank you for all the wonderful traditional lore in your comment! Brigid has such a rich and splendid history!

Kalpana said...

I was so moved by this poem and it is incredibly relevant for my life. Delighted to have found your blog.

Ol'Buzzard said...

Beautiful
the Ol'Buzzard

Rommy said...

I think I need to save that poem somewhere and use it for my private observations of the shifting of the year. That was beautiful.

This N That said...

Beautiful..Those snow drops would have a long push around here these days...THey have another month to rest yet!!

Magaly Guerrero said...

Lovely poem. Love its progression.

Hope your Imbolc was bright (and full of warmth)!

JACKIESUE said...

lovely

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

A rejuvenating Imbolc to you.
This picture I find captivating.

Ur-spo said...

When I lived in the Midwest this was the day I would start my early vegetables in the basement as the first step towards spring.

Lady M said...

Beautiful! However, as a birder, I would ID those as ravens.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Lady M -- D'OH!!! Yes, on closer inspection, you're absolutely right! And on closer inspection of that poem, it's not quite as hopeful as I first thought. Kind of ambivalent (at best), really. Clearly I was not batting 100% with this post, LOL!

Martha said...

Just beautiful! And that last image? LOOOOOVE

baili said...

this is really beautiful poem dear Debra ,delicately woven and i loved the sensitivity it has splendid simply!