Below is Susan Cooper’s poem “The Shortest Day,” written originally for The Christmas Revels in celebration of the winter solstice.
There is a version both printed and on the internet with a mistake in it, so we are posting this to be sure that the many people who share this poem have the right words and punctuation. Please use the poem for non-commercial purposes, and follow copyright guidelines. You can direct permissions questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
THE SHORTEST DAY
By Susan Cooper
Copyright Susan Cooper 1974
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen,
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing, behind us — listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight
This shortest day
As promise wakens in the sleeping land.
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends, and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year, and every year.