In 1994 when we released our Winter Catalogue I wrote:
"At Grays of Westminster we start the preparations for Christmas early in the year. As the season draws on, the shop begins to transform itself as we celebrate the old customs and traditions with decorations of holly, ivy and mistletoe and gaily wrapped gifts which combine to add to the promise of Christmas. We approached an old friend to write something for our Winter Catalogue and are therefore very proud to announce that the distinguished writer, poet, performer Robin Williamson has written the following piece "Here's to Midwinter" that so vividly conjures up the winter season.
Robin Williamson first sprang to fame in the late sixties as the lead singer, virtuoso instrumentalist and co-founder of The Incredible String Band. He influenced a generation of musicians as diverse as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and the Eurythmics. After 1974, he developed a contemporary song-writing style based on Celtic instrumentation and tradition and became increasingly well known throughout the world as a storyteller.
"Part poet, part musician, part storyteller, part cultural guardian, he is the consummate performer, at once captivating in his artistry, delightful in his wit..."
Standing again at the crossroads
of Winter here's to midwinter
and the twinkle of bright eyes
and here's to me Tom Fool with my handful of holly
I'll write the wren boys in, in frosty Antrim
& the Welsh with the Mari Llwyd
I'll write a twinkle in those eye holes
in the lanes of Ceredigion
Claret faced Christmas
talking turkey will have its full say
with carols till your ears melt
but I'll write magic
in a star hung sky
and what the wind whispers
on the black roadside nowhere
where the dead & the unborn
listen whispers this:
every kiss should be about what will be
every tear must be for what will never come again
here's to midwinter and the twinkle of bright eyes
here's to what cannot be taken
from the lowest in the coldest doorway
here's to what the highest cannot keep
with the highest walls
here's to what the granny and the wee baby knows
here's to the heart beat of the world
and here's to you.
Copyright © 1994 Robin Williamson
I have included it on our website because I love Robin's writing and remember spending many a happy magical evening attending The Incredible String Band's concerts many years ago. I thought you might like to read it too.
Incidentally, Robin has extended this poem into a song which appears on his CD The Island of the Strong Door (The Music Corporation TMC 9504).