Philip Larkin | |
Once i am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting seats and stone
and little books; sprawlings of flowers cut
For Sunday brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense musty unignorable silence
Brewed God knows how long.
Hatless I take off
My cylce-clips in awkward revrence
Move forward run my hand around the font.
From where i stand the roof looks almost new--
Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern I peruse a few
hectoring large-scale verses and pronouce
Here endeth much more loudly than I'd meant
The echoes snigger briefly.
Back at the door
I sign the book donate an Irish sixpence
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do
And always end much at a loss like this
Wondering what to look for; wondering too
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show
Their parchment plate and pyx in locked cases
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?
Or after dark will dubious women come
To make their children touvh a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games in riddles seemingly at random;
But superstition like belief must die
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass weedy pavement brambles butress sky.
A shape less recognisable each week
A purpose more obscure.
I wonder who
Will be the last the very last to seek
This place for whta it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber randy for antique
Or Christmas-addict counting on a whiff
Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative
Bored uninformed knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation--marriage and birth
And death and thoughts of these--for which was built
This special shell? For though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth
It pleases me to stand in silence here;
A serious house on serious earth it is
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet
Are recognisd and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious
And gravitating with it to this ground
Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in
If only that so many dead lie round.
Louisa May Alcott | |
From our happy home
Through the world we roam
One week in all the year,
Making winter spring
With the joy we bring
For Christmas-tide is here.
Now the eastern star
Shines from afar
To light the poorest home;
Hearts warmer grow,
Gifts freely flow,
For Christmas-tide has come.
Now gay trees rise
Before young eyes,
Abloom with tempting cheer;
Blithe voices sing,
And blithe bells ring,
For Christmas-tide is here.
Oh, happy chime,
Oh, blessed time,
That draws us all so near!
"Welcome, dear day,"
All creatures say,
For Christmas-tide is here.
Marianne Moore | |
Beauty and Beauty's son and rosemary -
Venus and Love, her son, to speak plainly -
born of the sea supposedly,
at Christmas each, in company,
braids a garland of festivity.
Not always rosemary -
since the flight to Egypt, blooming indifferently.
With lancelike leaf, green but silver underneath,
its flowers - white originally -
The herb of memory,
imitating the blue robe of Mary,
is not too legendary
to flower both as symbol and as pungency.
Springing from stones beside the sea,
the height of Christ when he was thirty-three,
it feeds on dew and to the bee
"hath a dumb language"; is in reality
a kind of Christmas tree.
More great poems below...
Ben Jonson | |
? TO GROOM IDIOT.
IDIOT, last night, I pray'd thee but forbear
To read my verses ; now I must to hear :
For offering with thy smiles my wit to grace,
Thy ignorance still laughs in the wrong place.
And so my sharpness thou no less disjoints,
Than thou didst late my sense, losing my points.
So have I seen, at Christmas-sports, one lost,
And hood-wink'd, for a man embrace a post.
Erin Belieu | |
It bothers me: the genital smell of the bay
drifting toward me on the T stop, the train
circling the city like a dingy, year-round
The Puritans were right! Sin
is everywhere in Massachusetts, hell-bound
in the population.
it bothers me
because it's summer now and sticky - no rain
to cool things down; heat like a wound
that will not close.
Too hot, these shameful
percolations of the body that bloom
between strangers on a train.
It bothers me
now that I'm alone and singles foam
around the city, bothered by the lather, the rings
Know this bay's a watery animal, hind-end
perpetually raised: a wanting posture, pain
so apparent, wanting so much that it bothers me.
Calvin Ziegler | |
Die ganz Welt iwwer
Frei die Leit sich sehr,
Un alles is harrlich, as wann der Daag
Vom Himmel gelosse waer.
Ich hock allee in mei Zimmer
Un denk so iwwer die Zeit -
Wie der Geischt vun Grischt sich immer
Weider un weider ausbreid:
Un wie heit in yeder Famillye
Frehlich un gutes Mut
In die liewi aldi Heemet
Sich widder versammle dutt.
Ach widder deheem! Ach, Yammer! -
Net all! Deel sin yo heit
Zu weit vun uns ab zu kumme -
Fatt in de Ewichkeit.
Net all deheem! Verleicht awwer -
Unich behaap's kann sei -
Im Geischt sin mir all beisamme
Un griesse enanner uff's nei!
So sin mir vereenicht widder -
Loss die Zeit vergeb wiesie will;
Ich drink eich ein Gruss, ihr Brieder!
Verwas sitzt dir all so schtill?
Weit ab - iwwer Barig un Valley,
Un iwwer die Ewichkeit's Brick -
Vun eich Brieder all, wie Geischdeschall
Kummt mir Eier Gruss zerick.
The whole world over
Everyone's filled with love,
And everything's joyful, as if the day
Was given from above.
I sit alone in my room
Thinking about the times -
How the spirit of Christ always
Wider and wider shines.
And how today all families
With much happiness embrace
As they gather once again
In the dear old home place.
All home again! Oh, not so! -
Not all! Some today in reality
Are far from us below -
Away in eternity!
Not all at home! Perhaps though -
And I insist I knew -
In the spirit we're all together
And greet each other anew.
So we are together again -
May the time go as it will,
I drink to you a toast, brothers!
Why do you all sit so still?
Far away - over valley and ridge,
And over the eternal bridge -
From you brothers, like a spiritual echo
Your greeting returns below.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating of Christmas pie:
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
Maria Mazziotti Gillan | |
Panic in your face, you write questions
to ask him.
When he arrives,
you are serene, your fear
How unlike me you are.
After the dance,
I see your happiness; he holds
Though you barely speak,
your body pulses messages I can read
all too well.
He kisses you goodnight,
his body moving toward yours, and yours
I am frightened, guard my
tongue for fear my mother will pop out
of my mouth.
"He is not shy," I say.
a little girl again, but you tell me he
kissed you on the dance floor.
"No, a lot.
We ride through rain-shining 1 a.
I bite back words which long
to be said, knowing I must not shatter your
moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird,
you, the moment, poised on the edge of
flight, and I, on the ground, afraid.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Copyright © 1995
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
THIS box, mine own sweet darling, thou wilt find
With many a varied sweetmeat's form supplied;
The fruits are they of holy Christmas tide,
But baked indeed, for children's use design'd.
I'd fain, in speeches sweet with skill combin'd,
Poetic sweetmeats for the feast provide;
But why in such frivolities confide?
Perish the thought, with flattery to blind!
One sweet thing there is still, that from within,
Within us speaks,--that may be felt afar;
This may be wafted o'er to thee alone.
If thou a recollection fond canst win,
As if with pleasure gleam'd each well-known star,
The smallest gift thou never wilt disown.
Walter de la Mare | |
A wrinkled crabbed man they picture thee,
Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey
As the long moss upon the apple-tree;
Blue-lipt, an icedrop at thy sharp blue nose,
Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.
They should have drawn thee by the high-heapt hearth,
Old Winter! seated in thy great armed chair,
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth;
Or circled by them as thy lips declare
Some merry jest, or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the mouldering fire,
Or taste the old October brown and bright.
Walter de la Mare | |
Interr'd beneath this marble stone,
Lie saunt'ring Jack and idle Joan.
While rolling threescore years and one
Did round this globe their courses run;
If human things went ill or well;
If changing empires rose or fell;
The morning passed, the evening came,
And found this couple still the same.
They walk'd and eat, good folks: what then?
Why then they walk'd and eat again:
They soundly slept the night away:
They did just nothing all the day:
And having buried children four,
Would not take pains to try for more.
Nor sister either had, nor brother:
They seemed just tallied for each other.
Their moral and economy
Most perfectly they made agree:
Each virtue kept its proper bound,
Nor tresspass'd on the other's ground.
Nor fame, nor censure they regarded:
They neither punish'd nor rewarded.
He cared not what the footmen did:
Her maids she neither prais'd nor chid:
So ev'ry servant took his course;
And bad at first, they all grew worse.
Slothful disorder fill'd his stable;
And sluttish plenty deck'd her table.
Their beer was strong; their wine was port;
Their meal was large; their grace was short.
They gave the poor the remnant-meat
Just when it grew not fit to eat.
They paid the church and parish rate;
And took, but read not the receipt;
For which they claim'd their Sunday's due,
Of slumb'ring in an upper pew.
No man's defects sought they to know;
So never made themselves a foe.
No man's good deeds did they commend;
So never rais'd themselves a friend.
Nor cherish'd they relations poor:
That might decrease their present store:
Nor barn nor house did they repair:
That might oblige their future heir.
They neither added, nor confounded:
They neither wanted, nor abounded.
Each Christmas they accompts did clear;
And wound their bottom through the year.
Nor tear, nor smile did they employ
At news of public grief, or joy.
When bells were rung, and bonfires made,
If asked they ne'er denied their aid:
Their jug was to the ringers carried,
Whoever either died, or married.
Their billet at the fire was found,
Whoever was depos'd or crown'd.
Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise;
They would not learn, nor could advise;
Without love, hatred, joy, or fear,
They led--a kind of--as it were:
Nor wish'd nor car'd, nor laugh'd nor cry'd:
And so they liv'd; and so they died.
A E Housman | |
In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.
Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.
The bells would ring to call her
In valleys miles away:
'Come all to church, good people;
Good people, come and pray.
But here my love would stay.
And I would turn and answer
Among the springing thyme,
'Oh, peal upon our wedding,
And we will hear the chime,
And come to church in time.
But when the snows at Christmas
On Bredon top were strewn,
My love rose up so early
And stole out unbeknown
And went to church alone.
They tolled the one bell only,
Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
And so to church went she,
And would not wait for me.
The bells they sound on Bredon,
And still the steeples hum.
'Come all to church, good people,' -
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;
I hear you, I will come.
A E Housman | |
Bring, in this timeless grave to throw
No cypress, sombre on the snow;
Snap not from the bitter yew
His leaves that live December through;
Break no rosemary, bright with rime
And sparkling to the cruel crime;
Nor plod the winter land to look
For willows in the icy brook
To cast them leafless round him: bring
To spray that ever buds in spring.
But if the Christmas field has kept
Awns the last gleaner overstept,
Or shrivelled flax, whose flower is blue
A single season, never two;
Or if one haulm whose year is o'er
Shivers on the upland frore,
--Oh, bring from hill and stream and plain
Whatever will not flower again,
To give him comfort: he and those
Shall bide eternal bedfellows
Where low upon the couch he lies
Whence he never shall arise.
Ellis Parker Butler | |
And now behold this sulking boy,
His costly presents bring no joy;
Harsh tears of anger fill his eye
Tho’ he has all that wealth can buy.
What profits it that he employs
His many gifts to make a noise?
His playroom is so placed that he
Can cause his folks no agony.
Mere worldly wealth does not possess
The power of giving happiness.
Ellis Parker Butler | |
Little cullud Rastus come a-skippin’ down de street,
A-smilin’ and a-grinnin’ at every one he meet;
My, oh! He was happy! Boy, but was he gay!
Wishin’ “Merry Chris’mus” an’ “Happy New-Year’s Day”!
Wishin’ that his wishes might every one come true—
And—bless your dear heart, honey,—I wish the same to you!