Poetry Friday–Hanukkah

Detail from Hanukkah Boy, © 2012 Michelle Kogan, watercolor and watercolor pencil.


your haloing glow
creeps up on us each year…
Sometimes early,
sometimes late
sometimes just right.
You follow moon’s
lunar calendar–
But, most of us
work-crazed creatures
follow work-crazed
Gregorian calendars.

Here you are again
early in December–
with classes still going
and orders still flowing
and energy levels slooowing…
Ooo, Aaah, Ummm…
And barely a moment
to think fairly on you–
Of your oil lamp miracle,
Maccabees’ temple triumph,
and message of freedom
lighting winter’s dark night.

But here I am,
and here you are–
Together we will
light a small light
for eight days of freedom,
eke out some oil
for sizzling latke’s,
and spin our dreidel
to forget our woes…
Together we’ll
close our eyes,
open our hearts
and spread
of hope

© 2020 Michelle Kogan

I was looking for another Hanukkah poem to share and came across an intriguing blog called Rebekah by Rebekah Lowin, a journalist by day and much more. The poem I’m sharing is from her post called: 20 Beautiful Hanukkah Poems You’ll Want to Memorize. There are also some poems not specifically on Hanukkah but related to it. Two others I liked that you’ll find there are Walt Whitman’s MIRACLES and Mary Oliver’s POPPIES.

Oil Lamp Menorah, archival print, © 2020 Michelle Kogan, pen and ink and watercolor, available in my Etsy Shop.

The Feast of Lights
by Emma Lazarus

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.

Five branches grown from Mattathias’ stem,
The Blessed John, the Keen-Eyed Jonathan,
Simon the fair, the Burst-of Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help of-God; o’er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,
Whose praise is: ‘He received the perishing.’

Read the rest of the poem here

Happy Hanukkah to all Celebrating!

Buffy at her blog Buffy Silverman is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks for hosting Buffy. She’s featuring Sylvia Vardell’s and Janet Wong’s latest poetry anthology HOP TO IT Poems to Get You Moving, be sure to stop by!

Visit Renée LaTulippe at No Water River to find out more about what Poetry Friday is.

About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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11 Responses to Poetry Friday–Hanukkah

  1. Both of these poems are a beacon of light for us “work-crazed creatures”. Sending light and love and Happy Hanukkah wishes to you and yours, Michelle. 🙂

  2. jama says:

    Beautiful post. Your watercolors are just lovely. Enjoyed both poems — needed the hope and spiritual nourishment this week. Thank you!

  3. Happy Chanukah to you, Michelle! Thanks for spreading thoughts of candlelit freedom and hope, and your lovely art. And who knew that Emma Lazarus wrote a Chanukah poem? Not me–but it certainly fits with the message of “Give your tired your poor.”

  4. lindabaie says:

    It’s quite wonderful that you found that Hanukkah poem by Emma Lazarus, Michelle. I love your art as always, the sweet candles & the bird. And your poem is a grand celebrations: “spread
    of hope
    Wishing you a bright holiday!

  5. Liz Steinglass says:

    Happy Hanukkah! Love the poems and the very sweet paintings. I will be giving your card to my son.

  6. Mitchell Linda says:

    Delightful! I love the warmth in your watercolor painting. The hustle and bustle of this time of year is a bit tiring. I wish the to-do list didn’t make me as grumpy as it does. Truth is, if I didn’t do some of the holiday things–they wouldn’t get done and I like them done. So, I do them! It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. I hope that tonight you can relax in the candlelight. Cheers!

  7. margaretsmn says:

    I’ve always worried about my Jewish friends who celebrate Hanukkah in the midst of work days. I suppose the tradition gives you the moment of peace you crave or perhaps adds to the craze. I like how your poem focuses on the meaning of Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah! May you find some peace and rest.

  8. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, I have come back to your post again today to read through the poems. There were many there that I would like to add to my Hanukkah greetings for friends. I am always impressed by your artwork. I noticed that you added great detailwork to your Oilamp Menorah piece. Peace to you

  9. maryleehahn says:

    Happy Hanukkah! Thank you for the poems and your (as always) gorgeous paintings!

  10. laurashovan222 says:

    Thank you for these Hanukkah poems, Michelle. I love the way that extended festivals help us slow down, spend time together, and enjoy traditions like the candles and latkes.

  11. “spread
    of hope
    around”…Both words and illustrations are so beautiful. Happy Hanukkah!

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