Sunday, November 2, 2014

Samhain's Sisters

Credit: Holger Motzkau
Every autumn Halloween - that attention whore - gets all the holiday face time. Which, I admit, is justified. Who doesn't love to try on a different side of themselves, binge on nostalgia and party anonymously? Admit it, we all do.

But this year, do yourself a favor. When the booze-stained sexy witch costume or sexy fireman costume... or sexy nerd costume?... is tossed into the dumpster and the sugar buzz evaporates, stop and take some time to notice a couple of underrepresented holidays: All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

If you want a history or theology lesson about Samhain, Hallowe'en, and the like, there are better places to get it.  

But if you are interested in a bit of poetry associated with Allhallowtide, keep scrolling.

For all the Saints - Protestant Hymn

(aka - poetry set to music)

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed
Alleluia, Alleluia! (*)

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sugar skulls are more than body art

Calavras are used to celebrate the Latin American version of All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos.

Poem for Day of the Dead - Author Unknown

Do not stand at my grave and weep. 
I am not there, I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on the snow. 
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain. 
I am the gentle Autumn's rain. 

When you awaken in the morning hush, 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry: 
I am not there, I did not die. 

From Day After Day of the Dead - Nathanial Mackey
“While we’re alive,” we kept
repeating. Tongues, throats,
roofs of our mouths bone dry,
skeletons we’d someday
Panicky masks we wore for
effect more than effect,
more real than we’d admit...
No longer wanting to know
what soul was, happy to
shadow, know touch...
Happy to have sun at our
backs, way led by shadow,
happy to have bodies, block
Afternoon sun lighting leaf,
glint of glass, no matter what,
about to be out of body it
Soon to be shadowless we thought,
said we thought, not to be offguard, caught out.
Gray morning we
to be done with, requiem so
sweet we forgot what it lamented,
turning to sugar, we

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