Today is one of my favorite days of the year, partially because I know when I wake up tomorrow, the day after that and so on, each day will be a little longer. And before I know it, the blue light of January will transform itself in February to a glistening shimmer, suggesting the return of spring.
Right now I am in Dublin. I have a short layover before traveling to Munich to celebrate Christmas with my family. I slept a bit on the plane and was welcomed by the most glorious typographical and neon light sculpture of a poem by John O’Donohue. I’ve been a big fan of his work since I heard one of the best On Being with Krista Tippett’s interview with him.
My experience of discovering this work feels like a blessing.
Here’s the full text of the poem:
If it could say itself January
Might brighten its syllables on the frost
Of these first New Year days whose cold is blue.
Meanwhile in this corner of its silence
A weak winter sun lowers down behind
The moor that rises away from the lake.
Beyond reach of light, the shadowed water
Succumbs to this darkening of spirit
That would deny the bog today’s twilight.
All of a sudden something else breaks through
To appear at the far end of the lake
In two diagrams of white, uneven light.
I have never seen white so absolute
And alone, glistening in awkward form
Dreaming across the water a bright path.
As it stirs and changes I see what it is:
Two swans have found the mirror in the lake
Where a V of horizon lets light through
To make them light-source and light-shape in one.
Now they swim and fade through windows of reed
And disrobe the lake of apparition.
I look and look into their vanishing
See nothing. Departing that perfect ground
I knew I had been hungry for a blessing.
John O Donohue, © 2001
Respond to the John O’Donohue poem using paper collage. You can choose to be inspired by the Dublin installation, or not. Good luck!
Everyday through December 25th, I’ll be making a 5×5 inch collage, writing a short entry on this blog and sharing a prompt for those who might want to participate along with me. You can follow my progress by subscribing to this blog through the sidebar on the blog homepage, or by following me on Instagram.