Hanukkah

By Hilda Morley 1916–1998 Hilda Morley
This season for us, the Jews—
a season of candles,
                                      one more
on the seven-branched candlestick for
the seven days of the week,
                                                  but let it be seven
in the sense of luck in dice,
                                          seven of the stars in
the constellations:
                                  Orion, Aldebaran in the sky
                                                                                     lively
over Jerusalem
                               Let the fuel
last the besieged       such as we are,
                                                             to nourish
us.
        Let the oil continue
for heat, for illumination,
                                                flame crouching
in the lamp,
                      the glass smoky
                                                   (December upon us)
the light not fail.
                               The air has been mild
for days—
                  & the 7 rings through my life
despite the 8 of this week—
                                                     bushes
in the doorway of 7 Charles where I lived, 51,
crackle with dryness,
                                         are bare still.
That house with the lucky
number brought me luck & misluck, both,
                                                                        like the other
that added to 7, out of 4 & 3,
                                                    that seven
underlying the eight of this week,
the 8 just over, the 7 just under
a third of the years with Stefan:
                                                          I praise them
both today—
                        the lasting oil
in the seven-branched candlestick:
                                                                absence
of all fear—the smallest
drop of fuel enough to leap from.
new york, 1973

Hilda Morley, "Hanukkah " from To Hold in My Hand: Selected Poems, 1955-1983. Copyright © 1983 by Hilda Morley.  Reprinted by permission of The Sheep Meadow Press.

Source: To Hold in My Hand: Selected Poems, 1955-1983 (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1983)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Hilda Morley 1916–1998

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Living, Religion, Judaism

Holidays Hanukah

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

"It is a shameful comment on our present-day literary situation that Hilda Morley's work has been largely neglected, that a great deal of it has gone unpublished, in spite of the author's productivity and her wide circle of acquaintance," declared Ralph J. Mills, Jr., in an issue of the literary journal Ironwood dedicated to Morley. Recognition for her poetic accomplishments came relatively late in life for Morley, according to . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Religion, Judaism

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.