The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

‘Tis the year’s midnight….


….again. It’s the shortest day of the year. Tomorrow the nights start drawing out again, and the days get a little longer with each sunrise.

Is the year’s glass half full or half empty – is the longest night a moment of sorrow and blackness, or an opportunity for hours of intimacy? At any rate, it’s time for my annual act of hubris – posting John Donne’s Nocturnall Upon St Lucie’s Day along with my response to it.  Donne’s is a heart-sore lament: he had recently lost his wife, and his masterful poem is a meditation on loss, absence, nothingness. Mine by contrast is in the voice of a lover rejoicing that the longest night offers hours of indulgence and togetherness.

For the pedants amongst you, who tell me each year that St Lucy’s Day is on 13th – it wasn’t when Donne wrote his poem, since we hadn’t yet switched to the Gregorian calendar. And for those who tell me the solstice is on 22nd… you may be missing the point. Light a candle, light a fire and read these two Nocturnes to brighten the evening.


3 comments on “‘Tis the year’s midnight….

  1. tottnm
    December 21, 2015

    Felt very much in tune with yours – yummy! Being a Scorpio may have something to do with it.

  2. theswedishflowerpot
    December 24, 2015

    Though I love both nocturnes, and think they interweave wondrously, I feel that I may have misunderstood. I thought the other nocturne in this document was supposed to be John Donne’s? It is no complaint, as I think yours and Malone’s make for a glorious comparison, but I would also like to see Donne’s to better understand the original influence.

  3. Jo Bell
    December 24, 2015

    Quite right Amki – I did post the Malone one originally by accident, but thought I had corrected it. Job done now – thanks for letting me know!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on December 21, 2015 by in Readings and writings.
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