Silence ~an Advent Quest ~ the dark side lit

By my bed, a floral candle, comfort.

In silence there is darkness, anxiety, fear.  In darkness, lights fulfil their promise.

In silence, I remember the darkness of the first Christmas; the anxiety, the fear. I remember the Star of Wonder, the guiding light.

‘By my bed, on a little round table
The Grandmother placed a candle.
She gave me three kisses telling me they were three
And tucked me in just where I loved being tucked.
Then she went out of the room and the door was shut.
I lay still, waiting for my three dreams to talk;
But they were silent……..’

from The Candle by Katherine Mansfield



44 thoughts on “Silence ~an Advent Quest ~ the dark side lit

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed. I didn’t much like going to bed as a child because of the dark and the silence. When I was young there were no artificial light sources outside, or in the room; dark was dark. And I was not as brave as the child in the poem. Once I was in bed, I stayed there. After all there could be a goblin under the bed! Or a monster in the wardrobe. 😀

  1. shoreacres

    I recognized Katherine Mansfield’s name, but didn’t remember reading her. I was surprised to discover that she was quite a short story writer. I read one of her stories, from this site, and it was so dark, even your candle might not have brought light to it. When I read the entire poem you quoted from above, I felt the same darkness.

    Still, Annie Dillard’s right: “You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
    How well that fits with these lines from Mansfield’s poem:

    I crunched my teeth and crept out of bed,
    I peeped through a slit of the blind.
    There was nothing at all to be seen.
    But hundreds of friendly candles all over the sky.”

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The site to which you linked is one of my favourites for Katherine Mansfield. And I , too, have found darkness in her work, which is probably why I only read her in small doses and why I wouldn’t choose her for a bedtime read. Re the lovely quote from Annie Dillard, I was thinking today how stars are with us day and night, unchanging, ever present. Google tells me there are people who like to search for stars in the daylight sky.

  2. thecontentedcrafter

    I love Katherine Mansfield’s poems and her stories too. An underrated woman of distinction! My aunt lived quite close to her home in Thorndon before all was demolished and moved about for the sake of the motorway …… And your gladiola in a jar is a fabulous sight. Your photos are inspirational.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We read a little of Katherine Mansfield at high school, and I have dipped into her work on and off over the years. I think she has been underrated but, to some extent, that has been counteracted by the wonderful Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowhsip. Thank you for your kind words about my photos.

  3. Steve Schwartzman

    Katherine Mansfield was one of so many creative people who didn’t live past their 30s. (Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Mozart come to mind as three others.) When we were in Wellington I learned about the Katherine Mansfield House and thought about visiting it, but we ended up not doing that, given our limited time and the pull of so many other things there.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Peter, for your blessing. The flower actually snapped off in the wind, one day, and I decided the best way to keep its beauty alive for as long as possible was to place it in a jar with a little water. It lasted for more than 2 weeks!

      1. Mél@nie

        just like Tish, I’ve had the same reaction:”ah, Katherine Mansfield!” – comme disait Voltaire:”les grands et beaux esprits se rencontrent…” 🙂

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          🙂 🙂 There is another Katherine Mansfield reading there, too. It’s one of my Tuesday Prose readings. The Butterfly poem is my favourite, though.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Thank you, Liz. The videos are a way for me to challenge my speaking voice. I only allow myself two takes. Sometimes that works well, sometimes not. 😀

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