Lighting candles

The candle-lighting theme of the last ten days or so is still striking a chord with me as I light both the log stove and candles in my dear little sanctuary of a study – looking out at shadows across the winter garden, remembering the colours of last summer and looking forward to the next.

Lights, quietness and warmth lend themselves often to poetic recollection and prayer. The poetry itself, like Divine Order, plays its part in re-collecting me, “bringing me – or restoring me – to my senses”. Anyway, the Welsh poet Ruth Bidgood comes to mind tonight:

Lighting Candles

Tonight, after a storm, lighting candles,
I remember a picture I have seen
of Indian women at night
launching candles on leaf-boats
to float away downstream,
carrying prayers into the dark.

Tonight, lighting candles, I think
of the dark faces, the dwindling lights,
night closing back, the water
black again, reflections gone,
boats all sailed away, and the prayers
now rising from some further reach
of the sacred river. Out of sight
the dancing end of the little flames.

Tonight I light candles.
What prayers were waiting
for these new bodies of fire?
Standing outside, I see
upon a dark and turbulent sky
my house launched, with a freight of light.

Ruth Bidgood
Lighting Candles: New and Selected Poems

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