An Annual Tradition

Once again, I’m taking part in what I have come to think of as a very lovely tradition, the Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading that marks the Feast of St. Brigid. The first year I did it, I asked my father-in-law, the poet, to provide me with a favourite of his. The next year he did me the honour again. In Lene’s family, they always say that if you do something twice, that makes it a tradition, and apparently Joe Sr. feels that way too, since this year he was the one who reminded me that Silent Poetry Reading was coming up, and asked me when I needed his poem by. Clearly, he has come to think of this space as “his” for this day of the year, and who am I to argue with him. Old Joe (as the children call him, to set him apart from his son who is “Our Joe” ) is splitting his time these days between frozen Toronto, snowy Quidi Vidi (pronounced “kitty viddy”) in Newfoundland, and Mecca, Saudi Arabia – which is where he is today – enjoying a temperature of 33 degrees (91F). (Whoops. He’s back!) I wondered, when he sent me this by email, if it was the hot weather there that had inspired him, but I’m guessing not. Were I a betting woman, I would have my money on the brief but remarkable Newfoundland summer… made all the more special by the contrast with the long and dark winter.



For me it conjured up images of my daughters on the rocks at Shallow Bay a few years ago, young women more than children, and how the beauty of a young girl at the sea is the likely the only thing that can outshine a summer day in the succinct but glorious Newfoundland summer.

O see the pulse of summer in the ice.

Dylan Thomas

Summer Girls

I see summer girls in splendor

Walk foot bare on fields of green

Sea-wet hair dried by warm breezes

Swirling through an open screen.

I see summer skin sun-ripened

Under flowing loose white gown

Mound of freckled salt-stiff breast

Hair at nape of neck like down.

I see summer girls in laughter

After yellow ball spins round

Voices murmur in the twilight

Fever rising with the sound.

I see summer rain on faces

Sleep-soft bodies stir in morn

Stain of virgin seed and berry

Strut of sainted youth reborn.

I see you summer girls and dread

The day veils will turn heartless

No more to open on blue hills

When I lie down with darkness.

Joseph Dunphy

148 thoughts on “An Annual Tradition

  1. Second! I’ve never even been close to this before! Old Joe, beautiful poetry, and thank you.

  2. Ohh, beautiful… I’m with anne at 3:51. Must go wipe eyes now. But not before I say I *love* the last line. What a wonderfully evocative ending to what’s gone before! Thank you, Old Joe. And Stephanie.

  3. What beauty. Thank you to Old Joe and to you for sharing it. My dream vacation is to be in Newfoundland. Most people think that is weird, but I love the rock and the sea and the special colour of the place. Someday…

  4. That is quite the stunning poem. I’m not usually one to slow down enough to savor poetry, so it has to be something special to catch my eye.

  5. Thank you, Mr. Dunphy, for the memories of summers past, the dream of summers yet to come, and the appreciation of how lucky we are to be granted them.

  6. Thank you for the vision of summer in the midst of winter. Thank you for sharing Old Joe’s words. How lucky you are to have him in your life. I found a poem of mine about the newness of spring. It’s on my blog. Click on my name and stop over for a visit.

  7. Wow, that’s a beautiful poem. Good choice Old Joe!
    (If I’m thinking of the right person, I happen to like Dylan Thomas now I think… sorry, I’m not an English major, so I don’t know if I’m thinking of the correct person…)

  8. A pleasure Old Joe, a simple pleasure.
    For the uninitiated Steph, pleasee explain St. Brigid’s day and when it is!

  9. I can never remember poetry. Without using the internet the only thing which comes to mind is…
    Shake and Shake
    The Ketchup Bottle
    None will come
    And then a lot’ll
    Happy Groundhog Day!

  10. Beautiful – it really touched me. I had an uncle & cousin who were both named Joe – the elder was Big Joe & the younger was Little Joe. The ironic thing was that Big Joe was shorter – only 5′ tall while Little Joe was 5’2″ – both tiny men.

  11. Thanks to Old Joe and you for sharing these bright summer thoughts. I see where you get your gift with words! Carolyn G

  12. Thank you Stephanie and Joe for a moment’s reprieve from winter icicles and an unwanted skating rink in my backyard.

  13. STUNNING. I have a bit of a tear in my eye at the last stanza and Old Joe’s perception and appreciation for what he won’t be “there for” when he’s gone. A very beautiful use of the seasons as the stages of life. If the family choses to compile a collection for publication, I would love a copy. Last year’s poem was equally as wonderful.

  14. What Korinthe said…Big Joe? you ARE John Donne come back to us again. Thank you for an amazing and wonderful poem. It isn’t too often in this life that art, however great, causes one to catch the breath and hold the silence as the last words fade…

  15. Lovely lovely thank you .My sister in law is from Newfoundland too and such a dear sweet person. They just make them that way down there don’t they .She lives in Toronto and LOVES to go “down home ” to replenish her soul. Thank you Joseph.

  16. it’s beautiful. very emotional too. poetry has not moved me like that for some time now. truly a work of art.

  17. This is truly why I love the internet (although there are moments when I loathe it)! In what other time would I have had the opportunity to read such beautiful poetry by Joseph Dunphy.

  18. That was beautiful. Tears came to my eyes as I remember living in St. John’s and enjoying all the differences from Western Canada. The photos of you and your girls there was definitely of a large day in NFLD.

  19. Breathtaking…and such a warm respite on an otherwise cold, dreary day in Pennsylvania.
    Thanks Old Joe.

  20. You have sent his poems to your publishers, yes? Cuz really, I’m going to need to be able to read them more often than once a year.

  21. For Imbolc, my fiance gave me a beautiful statue of Brighid from Sacred Source, which is a little company my friends own, which arrived yesterday. She is standing on her holy well, with SHEEP around her, poem scrolls to read in one hand, and a sword and forge behind her.
    We’re doing a little family ritual today in her honor, and when I find a poem to read there, I’ll blog it. Some of these blogging traditions are very good! Thank you!

  22. Your annual tradition beats the heck out of Groundhog Day.
    And the summery images were very much welcome. Very nice.

  23. Thank you! This is our first year of celebrating St. Brigid via a Waldorf Candlemas Festival (celebrating the coming of spring)! We’re making beeswax candles, and in true stash busting fashion, I concocted wicks by crocheting cotton…we’ll see how my experiment works! The poem was truly beautiful to help us think of the coming spring/summer!

  24. his work is deeply beautiful. even now, i still like to recall his piece on the yellow house…

  25. That is not a comfortable poem. I’m 38, which is old enough to see old age approach, but young enough to not have to deal with it yet. This poem brings it right into my face, whether I will or no. And there isn’t much comfort to be had in the poem. Only the knowledge that life pulses just as strongly in the winter of one’s life as in the summer.

  26. Thank you for conjuring up some wonderful memories of my childhood summers at the lake. It is not easy to make a guy feel warmed to the soul on a February night in Yellowknife, and today’s post did just that.
    (Thanks for reading the blog, too. I think my mother will love me now).

  27. Wow, thanks, that was so beautiful.
    Newfoundland is a beautiful place-summer or winter. Places like that are why so many of us stay in the “frozen” north. I had been thinking that this particular winter was dragging on but now I remember why we choose the north.

  28. I have just started reading your blog ‘from the ground up’ and I am on Feb 10, 2004. I am laughing and smiling and feeling like I’m not the only complete knitty-obsessive, roll in my yarn (well, think about it anyway), person out there.
    The picture of the carded pieces of wool (you may have to check that blog to remember) actually made me gag. I know what they are, but I can’t delete the idea of what they actually look like and I’ll have to return to your blog tomorrow and skip Feb. 10, 2004.
    LOVE YOUR WRITING! It is a great inspiration!

  29. People choose their spaces and times to “be” in such varied ways…some love the camping, the woods, the snow and all that nature brings. I live in the woods, it does snow here. I always yearn for the sea. If I am lucky, I see it for a week or so once a year in the summer and bring back stones, shells, a little sand to keep it with me as long as I can. I am a waterbaby as is my sixteen year old daughter (the moebius I knitted for her to wear over her dress we both call seafoam…it looks like it)
    Please tell Old Joe that he has captured the beauty of those summers when I was that young girl. Now I watch my girl trailing down the edge of the water being that girl…new freckles every day, sea and sun dried hair.
    Tell him the blog is so glad you shared.

  30. Thank you for sharing this poem We have been playing “Guess How Far Below Zero It Is” all day and Joe has added a much needed bit of warmth on this “mitten day”.

  31. Wonderful! I do so enjoy Joe Sr’s work…and yes, the summer sun almost made it warm here in the chilly south…
    My contribution is up on nanasadiesplace – link above.

  32. My favorite poem is one that helps me to live in the frozen north.
    No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
    But one thing about it, It mustn’t get warm.
    “How often already you’ve had to be told,
    Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.
    Excerp from Good-Bye and Keep Cold.
    Robert Frost

  33. Yesterday I bitched about the furnace running non stop and today I feel a touch of summer in the air with your marvelous father-in-law’s poem. Yay for Joe Sr.!!!!

  34. I know that I’ve been in English class too long when I try to instinctively analyze the poem. I read it once then started to mentally circle the imagery and diction words and syntax. It’s kinda horrifying actually….
    My mind, not the poem. The poem is lovely. XD

  35. I am not a poetry person at all. My eyes glaze over and my mind wanders. But this poem made me tear up. It made me feel like an old person looking back on my youth while watching grandkids. (I’m not old, lol)
    Anyway I too just finished reading this blog from beginning to end and had to stop myself more than once from commenting on really old posts. Good luck with the washer and the teenagers. I look forward to reading more!

  36. Amazing poem. Now that I know about the celebration, I’ll be sure to participate next year!
    Thank you for your wonderful blog! I’ve been a lurker for about 6 months and one of my resolutions for the year is to comment on the blogs I read to show them some love! 🙂

  37. Absolutely beautiful poem. It makes the long winter days (not these beautiful snowy ones – the cold cold grey windy ones) seem like they might end eventually.
    On a totally unrelated note: Are you not a practicing doula anymore? I used to like reading your birthing stories but I guess somewhere along the line you gave that up and I missed it. Birthing women everywhere should mourn the loss. Had I known, I would have roped you into helping me!

  38. To Joe, Sr.
    You have been given a gift that many aspire to receive, a gift of painting with words the landscape of our souls. Those are the painters I most revere. I live “too much” in that interior landscape. Your poem took me to the East End of Long Island and my own childhood and young-woman-hood. My heart will live there long after I’ve gone to my long rest.
    May God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, continue to bless you, as He already has.

  39. Thank you for sharing Joe, Sr.’s beautiful wordcraft. Now I am yearning for summer and the sea.

  40. Okay. Someone please pass the tissues. May this loving grandfather with the poet’s soul be there to dance at the joys in their lives for many many years to come. Long life and sturdy health to all of you.
    Can I get an amen?

  41. Generally, poetry is just not something I enjoy. However, I do look forward to reading Old Joe’s poetry on Silent Poetry day and enjoy it immensely every time.
    I’ve read the suggestions before, but Old Joe and Lene really should consider a collaboration.

  42. Thank you Old Joe and Thank you Stephanie. I loved last year’s poen as well. I’m going to see if he is published and purchase. The words just took me away. Thank you again Stephanie for sharing your lovely family and life with us.

  43. Beautiful Poem! What awsome talent lies in your family! Thanks for sharing!
    I received this bit of information this morning in an email and thought you might find it helpful!
    “Squirrel Away!
    To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with
    Cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the
    Squirrels won’t come near it.”
    I have no idea if it will work to keep the little beasties away from the wool but it couldn’t hurt to try!

  44. Please let us know if Joe Sr. publishes his poetry. I would treasure such a book. Thank you!

  45. Beautiful poem! Since you posted it here, I am hoping that it will be all right if I save it. If I show it to anyone else, I will give Joe full credit via you.

  46. Wow! Shallow Bay (if this is the Gros Morne shallow bay) is right smack in my dissertation field area! I’m working on describing fossils from the Cow Head Peninsula at the moment! Who knew I would find this connection on a knitting blog! Maybe this means I should be doing some writing on my dissertation… hmm.

  47. Thanks for turning around what has been a less than stellar day….. My daughter has a fondness for the name Brigid (chose it for her confirmation) and I’m from Newfoundland where summer is short but very sweet and memorable – so it all came together to remind me how lucky I am. Many thanks to you and to Joe for the blog and the poetry!

  48. Stunningly beautiful and simply eloquent. Thank you.
    And thanks for the reminder. I need to get something up for the event.

  49. I’m glad I didn’t get to this post until this morning. What a wonderful poem to read as the snow falls in NYC.

  50. Hooray for Quidi Vidi- my grandfather’s family is from there, and I had the delightful opportunity to visit back in high school. It also makes a lovely cat name.

  51. Thank you Old Joe for providing us a reminder that summer is coming, even as we shiver with the cold. . .

  52. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for marking this day. I would never have known of the Feast of Brighid if it were’nt for my birthday being on this day, therefore, it is a very special day for me also. Brighid Green

  53. i’m a longtime lurker – first time i’ve ever posted. … thanks to Old Joe for evoking the warm loveliness of all the summers of my life in the middle of my vermont winter.

  54. Beautiful, Old(er) Joe! Thank you for sharing those words with us. Of course, it was 70 degrees F here yesterday. And 74 today. Oh winter, where did you go?

  55. The picture of you on the rocks reminds me of the famous photo of Elizabeth Zimmermann knitting in Muskoka(?) from her book, Knitting Around.

  56. The socks are an absolute visual treat. I would never wear socks such as those – but they really are yummy looking.
    OK – how far along were the pinkish socks in the photo? To think you finished them in one day – I’m absolutely gob smacked.

  57. I am breathless at the beauty of the visual evoked by the poem. Thank you so much for sharing this traditon with us all. I will look forward to next year’s post

Comments are closed.