Poetry of the Year - January

Praise be! The old year has gone,
we are ready to be born again
here, in the dead of winter,
where saplings are pulled for space
and the stirring season begins.
Slowly, in this bright new year,
new beginnings take shape
as the light of day lengthens on.

Everything is quieter now,
winter tired and bare branched,
as we beseech the bitter wind
not to break our tender spirit
in the month we love least.
When only poetry and firelight
can fill the long idle hours
with reflection and warmth.

In this month of empty pockets,
a pale goddess comes calling,
inviting us to pull on winter’s coat
and come outside to play
in the snowy robe of our souls.
Where, with red cheeks radiant
against the ice-cold wind,
we become happy children again.

Yet as soon as fierce January
sets the bite of winter upon us
and bleakness surrounds us,
we curl up in hibernation,
belonging only to ourselves.
Whilst, in the heart of every tree,
beneath the low winter sun,
tight new buds are being born.


Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2019

20 thoughts on “January

  1. Beautiful Deborah as always, thank you for this sumptuous poem. My favourite line is: “in the snowy robes of our souls”, just beautiful. I too felt like I was out walking with you and marveling at the wonders in nature at this time I year. I quite love January with her eerie quietness and the starkness of the naked trees against the frosty, foggy days. I also love nestling inside in the warm with favourite books and poems to warm our souls. I have shared on my FB Page, I hope that’s okay? With love and blessings, Angela

    1. Thank you so much Angela for your sumptuous response to my poem! It’s wonderful to receive more encouraging feedback re feeling as though you were walking with me. The woods photographed above are an incredible, sacred place to visit, as all ancient woodlands are I guess. Frosty and foggy days, what great descriptions for January!

      There’s a line I’m tinkering with (as us poets do!) “against the ice-cold blast” so it may transform itself in the coming days. I look forward to reading more of your own beautiful, soulful poetry over the weekend. Yes please and thank you again re FB although (as I keep saying to myself!) I must put up a page for my poetry this year. Love and blessings, Deborah.

  2. Deborah, your words capture perfectly the true bleakness of January yet, those final three lines “Whilst in the heart of every tree, beneath the low winter sun, tight new buds are being born.” convey such a hope and promise for the coming year through the unseen stirrings of nature in the trees and in the earth.

    It mirrors my feeling about how life can be as the warmth and fun of Christmas is over, we must face the coldest month, yet a New Year beckons and fresh projects, hopes and dreams are born. I have set myself some creative goals and as I write am pondering a tarot reading for each month of the coming year which has thrown up even more possibilities and challenges for 2019 – so its onward and upward for me and also for you with this wonderful new poetry project for 2019. Blessings, Sophia x

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your beautiful reply to my first ever, “January” poem. Truly, those mystic stirrings and deep rhythms of the year cannot be observed unless one gets right up close and only then on every branch can those tiny new buds be seen, all the while under winter’s hard, frosty ground there’s a whole host of other stirrings going on. January is such a magical month!

      Good luck with all your creative goals for this up and coming year my dear friend! May the hope and promise of new ideas fill you up with the energy needed to bring them into being. I have yet to sit down and do my Tarot “horoscope” reading for the year … I thought I would wait until tomorrow night under January’s new moon. Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

      1. The energy of the new moon is certainly the perfect time for a reading – a time to plant seeds and set intentions. I will be settling down to writing out my goals and dreams for the year later on today under this influence too.

  3. I felt I was walking beside you Deborah. Symbolically, pulling up tree saplings for space and noticing the tight new buds. Amazing photo, you have captured January perfectly.

    1. Thank you so much mariquitta for your wonderful response to my poem! I’m deeply touched that you felt “we” were walking together in the woods … what more can a poet ever ask for?! The large, bare branched oak (in the photo) is the first tree I meet in those particular woods. I often leave this incredible Green Man an offering. When I visited on Tuesday, I left a bunch of beautiful dried roses … it felt good to leave the remnants of last summer . Blessings always, Deborah.

  4. I’m upstairs in my ‘new study’ at my desk and for the FIRST time I am using my laptop to respond to anyone or anything – somehow responding to you Deborah feels like a bit of a christening on my side. Slowly slowly things are coming right in my study – I haven’t spent too much time in it as yet. When I’ve sourced a lovely comfy armchair to put next to one of my bookcases, I will know I have arrived 🙂 There are two sofas, but I want an armchair – large and comfy and mine alone –

    But I did know last evening that I would come upstairs and catch up this morning. I love the changing seasons. If I think about it now, I guess it’s because it keeps me in touch with the rhythm of life, that there are cycles, that the wheel keeps turning, that sometimes it’s bleak, sometimes sunny .. and while I’ve been down in the dumpish for the last few days, I feel better charged now .. and again, for me it is fitting to be writing to you this morning.

    So yes, a new year … may your pen keep on writing, may your words be ever inspiring. Thank you for this lovely poem 🙂 … Love, SusaN

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your deeply reflective reply! Here in the UK, slowly, slowly the wheels of the year are turning back towards life as the stirring season gets underway, whilst in South Africa, no doubt, you’re in the midst of a hot, invincible summer! Oh how it is wonderful for me to be your very first reply in your new study! I’m looking forward to hearing all about the new arrival of your “own” large comfy chair in the coming weeks.

      I’m really looking forward to writing new monthly poems! I will wander and scribble into notebooks whilst walking, hopeful to immerse myself into each month’s cycles and rhythms. I’ve also been experiencing that down in the dumps feeling lately, still it’s good to notice these variations in ourselves alongside nature too. I agree, time spent in “within” (however defined) often recharges mind, body, spirit and soul. Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

  5. “Tight new buds are being born.” Yes! So many beautiful images, including the warmth of poetry and firelight on these long cold nights. I feel like Hestia as I load my wood stove with firewood stacked on the porch. The snow melted here, but we’re growing used to the seasons following erratic rhythms. In yesterday’s forest walk, there was intense green moss on the bottoms of trunks of larger trees–and one tiny hemlock seedling snuggled into the roots of a massive red oak. Green moss made my heart glad. Thank you, Deborah. I will share your poem on FB soon–if you don’t mind, which I think you don’t. With love and gratitude that you will mark the monthly changes with poems. You inspire me to write about emerging life.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for your beautiful, kind-hearted response to my new poem. Oh my Goddess you bring forth Hestia herself with your own images of hearth and home. I’m currently reading the mythological novel, “Circe” by Madeline Miller (who also wrote “The Song of Achilles”) it’s F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C! Believe me, you would love it, with its pantheon of Greek Gods and Divine Goddesses. I think I’m going to start the book again as soon as I’ve finished reading!

      Oh I love the vibrant green moss found in woodlands at the moment, especially when set against winter’s pale, grey trunks. Yesterday, whilst out walking, the yellow of a flowering gorge bush was eye-popping in the grey, colourless landscape. Yes please re FB! The day you posted my winter solstice poem “Welcome Mother Light” I had the most views ever! When life becomes less busy, I will find the time to set up a Facebook page for my poetry.

      Thank you again! There is no greater compliment than to inspire another to write. I doff my cap to you fair poetess! Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

  6. Dear Poet, your new poem ‘January’ has pushed the start button of my year!! I feel like I’ve been nudged to wake up and take a walk myself. I look forward to the poetic scenery along the way. February next.. HF

    1. Thank you so much Henry for your wonderful comment. “Start button of the year” oh, I love that! This whole idea comes from a recent dream I had where I was asked by an animus figure to write a poem for each month of the year. With any luck, by following the dream, it’ll help my ego let go of its supremacy and give the Self/Soul a more transparent, clearer, purer voice to speak with. Wish me luck! Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

  7. This poem is absolutely great from start to finish. It is definitely one to have in your next collection.

    1. Many thanks Picasso! I hope you are well and immersing yourself in January’s “firelight and poetry” too! Thank you for hopping over from the other place. Yes, the whole series is to be included in, “The Shepherd’s Daughter” or as a much smaller stand-alone book … hmm, creatively I haven’t worked it all out yet. Blessings always, Deborah.

  8. Finally, I can embrace the first month from which I have attempted to run away from every year of my life!! I’m confident your new poetry series will take us on deep healing journeys through the year. Exquisitely penned, full of January’s magic! All the best, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your encouraging response to my new “Poetry of the Year” series! Yes, January is a difficult month for many, humans and animals alike, with many forms of hibernation being a real choice. Me, I become all “firelight and poetry” during this month. Having said that, I took a long walk over cliffs and into ancient woodland on New Years Day to immerse myself in my writing of “January” and I have to say, although most trees were stripped bare, it was a different kind of beauty I found in the woods. Warm and wild blessings, Deborah.

      1. January

        The days are short,
        The sun a spark,
        Hung thin between
        The dark and dark.

        Fat snowy footsteps
        Track the floor.
        Milk bottles burst
        Outside the door.

        The river is
        A frozen place
        Held still beneath
        The trees of lace.

        The sky is low.
        The wind is gray.
        The radiator
        Purrs all day.

        by John Updike

        1. Wow! I love this John Updike poem! It’s the first time I’ve read it so thank you for posting it Anna! It holds a great balance of dark and light within, and I love the imagery of those “trees of lace” which perfectly illustrates my wife’s photograph above. and oh the joyous comfort of the warm house with its purring radiators!

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