A bright night is a phenomenon, lost due to artificial lighting, whereby the sky is producing about ten times as much light as the stars alone. To be appreciated it must occur on a clear, moonless night. The landscape is clearly visible and you can read without candlelight.
Caused by intense airglow, (oxygen atoms join to form molecular oxygen after the sun has gone down) happens about once a year.
This poem explores what might have happened on such a rare night during the cold month of February in Anglo-Saxon times.
Wuldorfador down, bedded for the night,
But no darkness seen, no moon within sight.
Unnatural glow, in clear sky so bright,
Twilight without end, shone on village rite.
Fine furrows in field, clear cut to be seen,
A Solmonath night, no snow or moon beam.
Would dark as Heimlich, most normally mean,
No clouds overhead, all in a cold dream.
A strange eerie glow, hanging in the sky,
No moving lights of, haegtesse to spy.
But some strange bright bands, like fine fields of rye,
Out shining the stars, as seen to the eye.
An aid to travel, folk come to the light,
Halls and huts emptied, to revel at night.
Soon mead and ale floweth, with horns held at height,
Wassailing hooded, folk in drinking rite.
Mead jug bearing boys, excitedly run,
Quote the good drychten, let's have us some fun.
Show me a man who's, horn is fully done,
Long into the night, a few stalwarts drank,
Their numbers count down, as midnight watch shrank.
Then others awake, to join rabble rank,
Crisp venturing out, to shore up their flank.
At last ghostly light, it fadeth from view,
Lay on their bed straw, and left their fine brew.
For the fields to plough, in the morning dew,
The morrow's ploughing, might not be so true.
Copyright Andrew Rea January 2018