The Shortest Day

Posted by Susan Cooper on Tuesday, November 24, 2015


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 Thank you!


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.

Welcome Yule!

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