Poetry and Christmas seem to mix well; the midwinter period of the shortest, darkest day seems to lend itself to thoughtful reading and response. Obviously the Christian faith makes a point of the twenty fifth of December as the point of one of the earliest mysteries in the form of the birth of Christ, but there are other festivals of light and hope that attempt to transform the shortest day and the turn of the year. The poet, Orna Ross, in this slim volume has attempted to capture some of the mystery of this time, the rejoicing and the new beginning.
This has taken the form of twelve poems that establish both the mystery and the humanity of this annual period in a new way. From the viewpoints of birth, human, flora and fauna, this book gives new perspectives on the time of year. This means that even if you mark Christmas, Chinese Dongzhi, Jewish Hanukkah, Hindi Makaraa Sankranti or Irish Mean Geimhridh, you will find something special in this book. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review this book.
There are four sections to this book: Rebirth, Renew, Reconnect and Rejoice. The first poem, “Soaring”, looks at how a Christmas angel can soar from the mundane world. “The Next Birth” celebrates how the individual lives of a family meld together. The growth of a tree from the earth becomes symbolic of other meaning of birth. “Mid – Winter Benediction” has the form of a song of blessing, like “Bless the air on hands and face, and sun on winter’s say. Bless trees that broke the gnaw of wind, and heralded the way”. The Irish creation myth provides the inspiration for “Oran Mor”, “The great song”, in all its beauty. The final poem “Christmas Rain” contrasts the natural rainfall, “the illuminating rain” with crowds and celebrating Christmas in today’s world.
This book is full of tender and special words for the time of year, images of life, love and nature. Twelve poems sounds a small number, but there is a huge variety of rhythm and rhyme, imagery and ideas. It is a small book of big ideas, and is a tremendous success as a book of poetry for Christmas and other beginnings.