Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Fathersong. For Sofia Celestia

In the morning light. Inverloch, September 1988

For the past three years we have, as a family, dispensed with giving each other purchased gifts at Christmas - apart from the grandchildren of course. We have instead exchanged artful representations, such as drawings, collages, symbolic portrayals of each other. This year, much to the delight of those of us less adept in the skills of line and colour, the nature of our offerings has been extended to include songs, stories and poems. 

Fathersong is my Christmas offering to our younger daughter, Sofia. It offers a poetic account of her remarkable entry into our lives on a star-filled night three decades ago, and is a celebration of her strength and courage in the face of life's unexpected visitations.

Fathersong. For Sofia Celestia can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 file can be downloaded here.

Production Notes

Harmonic backing track
Nico Di Stefano
Vincent Di Stefano

"Oh the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no man fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there."
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1885


For Sofia Celestia

What is it then, to change our worlds, to leave the crimson field
That glows behind thin eyelids closed?
Depart the smooth-walled cave that yields and bends
With each new flexing, each new turning?

When that first wave washed gently through the living room
From which your first breath would be drawn,
Your mother gathered cloths and candles.
I took some rest in preparation.

Your angel knocked and drew my thread towards the now-clear door.
Such strength, such depth of presence held her there.
And as I fascinated walked, the dream-thread snapped
And I awoke, my body all electric thrilling.

What is it then, to change our worlds, to knock upon already-open doors?
Your mother's door now open wide, but we alone.
The midwife's skill behind the wheel in former days
Fast spun her to our doorstep

And moments later, there emerged your wondrous, tiny baby face.
Well-practiced hands revealed the living twine that held you fast.
With one swift cut, and cord uncoiled, then free you slid
To waiting hands and wondrous murmurs.

Soft song of welcome sprung from smiling lips, filling breasts.
We marvelled all that bright-star night
Then woke anew in father's day,
In miracle of family way.

What is it then, to change our worlds, from innocence of childhood days
To number and weight of fuller years with all they hold and carry?
We live within a greater dream and range beyond familiar ground
To tread old paths undreamed and unexpected.

(And though that greater dream be hid from sight and sense
It beckons on to paths ne'er seen before, yet strangely known.)

To walk the mountain trail with clouds below is given to but few,
Yet this your courage did embrace and overcome.
The tempest came. The tempest passed, and back on level ground again,
The time invites a softer step, invokes a gentler course.

Remember this. Our words like seeds will often dormant lie
And seasons turn according to their time.
But where the soil is rich, the soul brings forth a great abundance,
The promise of its birth, the promise of its ceaseless striving.

Your soil is rich in strength of heart and mind.
Your sky is clear when to those heights you reach again.
Your self well formed in love and overcoming.
Your angel ever-present through your days.


1. In Search of the Deeper Healing

"The healing intention has taken many forms throughout history. It has been voiced in the prayers and invocations of countless generations of priests and shamans. It has been carried by the men and women who sought out the substances present in nature and those produced by human ingenuity that help to ease the pain of sickness and hasten the return of health. It continues to find expression in the skill and precision of those dedicated surgeons who daily exercise their art."
(Introduction: "Holism and Complementary Medicine. History and Principles", 2006)

2. Canto Celeste

This earlier Dante's Ghost post reflects further on a number of the themes touched upon in Fathersong.

3. After the Tempest (Finding Family)

This short poem builds on a personal reflection on the nature of enduring relationship during a time characterised by the prevalence of divided households.

The poem carries an acknowledgement of the tensions and the difficulties that inevitably arise within the context of marriage while also giving voice to the deeper treasures that can emerge in the living out of a sustained commitment to another.