Tuesday, 6 November 2012


After the fireworks the rains came.
Long silvered spears that pierced the darkness, silently slicing the once electric, tumultuous air.
Slantwise and lazy, it fell upon the ground and the cardboard cones that exploded in fountains of colour and light with a hundred gasps of spellbound breath.
The leaves, slippery and wet, drifted upon the same wind that carried fire into the heavens.
The wire of sparklers, as thin as dowsing rods and just as magical, pin sharp and needle hot, lay unseen upon mud and grass (where beetles forage). And the rains came for them too.

The bonfire, built by men with serious faces and the light hearts of their youth, flamed with the roaring passion of a warrior in the wintering dark. Earlier a ring of silhouettes had gathered round it to stare into its strange dance. Its tattoo beating upon the more primal hearts. Fire attracts all, but its power seems to be the lightest upon the children. Excited they run and shout to each other above the roar. It is the elderly who feel its power the greatest. The ruddy flicker deepening the lines of aged faces -contours of grief and laughter and unspent anxieties. They stand, silently staring into the deep furnace; lost to the cold and the ticking of eternity, their eyes once more ageless as they yield to a magic that once stirred their souls.

Stand here and watch those who are entering maturity, see how they will suddenly break away from the jostling throng, as if something has suddenly caught their eye; their eyes drawn to the alchemy of flame dancing under the bowl of night. For a short while they are stilled, silent, feeling the beat of the heat upon their faces. Watch their eyes, the way they stand, poised on adulthood. They see how this light discloses the deeper, truer, wilder beauty of the little group of girls alongside. They are learning to listen to this strange song of fire that is sirening their souls. For a while they stand mute and enchanted, then the noise of childhood pulls them back. But next year, they'll be here. Standing perhaps a little longer... looking a little deeper... losing themselves a little further in the great hymn of smoke and spark and flame. For evermore, each fire they encounter, in hearth or garden, they'll seek out that ancient song that called to them in their youth: The older they get, the stronger it will be.

But the rains came even for this; hissing and soughing, as the wood and hedgerows once more come alive. And now, the embers glow and wink like dragons' eyes and the ash lies thick and black upon the grass. It will remain there for many months to come - this circle of night where once the darkness blazed with light and we stood together to catch, once more, the songs of fire. And then the rain came. The glorious festival of water and light... and with it... the breathing silence of the land, once more, embracing the night.


  1. i am so jealous that you got to a bonfire!
    health and safety appears to have taken over everything and now all we have (locally,up here) are fireworks..and although still spectacular to watch i miss the bonfires of my youth. the ritual of building them and the primitive symbolism of the flames..banishing darkness, cleansing and purifying..

    "..the bowl of night.." - im swooning.

    "It is intimate and it is universal. It lives in our heart. It lives in the sky. It rises from the depths of the substance and offers itself with the warmth of love. Or it can go back down into the substance and hide there, latent and pent-up, like hate and vengeance." ~ from gaston bachelard's 'psychoanalysis of fire.'

    1. Yes, we are fortunate and it still plays a major role in the display with everyone gathering for its lighting just as dusk falls.
      We do have to have it on strange days so that the fire service can cover all the different displays.
      I love the building of the bonfire. Everyone hoards their hedge cuttings and old wood etc. and on the day of the fire the local farmers come round with their tractors and trailers (usually crawling with excited dogs) and we load them up. The best bit is the building of the fire. It is always done by the men and they do it with such a serious solemnity (but you can tell there is this ever present boyish excitement bubbling underneath).
      I think there is something about men and fire - to create fire is some sort of mark of your masculinity. One bushcrafter confessed to me how he hated lighting a fire when he was being watched in case it didn't work. The same often happens at campsites - men sombrely fussing around their campfires.
      I have to say, I love that, and I love it here. Most of the guys still in charge were our old (retained) firemen (when the village had its own fire engine) so they KNOW how to make a HUGE bonfire. As you can see from the pictures it is enormous.

  2. A pleasure to see I am not the only one who stands watching the enchanting weave of the flames. Truly an element of extremes set against the subtle energy of autumn rain. Another fine moment shared so well :o)

    1. There is just something so unique and powerful about living flames, isn't there? Truly mesmerising.
      I love that phrase, 'enchanting weave of the flames'. You describe it perfectly.

  3. it's the cycle i think, age draws to it the first sparks of creation. the flame is the doorway to home.

    1. Yes, I wonder if that is it. There is something about it that certainly turns ones thoughts to home and it does draw in us something very deep, something primal, something beyond (or before) time - I wonder if it is about those first sparks of creation.
      Thank you

  4. Great text, great blog!
    Yannis politopoulos

    1. You deserve this.Your writing is a combination of memory and reality.Your posts are the best answer to a silence that captures the faces of ordinary people.
      Yannis Politopoulos


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