Christina Rossetti | |
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cock crow,
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
Cradled in a manger,
In the world his hands had made
Born a stranger.
Priest and king lay fast asleep
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem;
Saint and angel, ox and ass,
Kept a watch together
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.
Jesus on his mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless lamb of God was he,
Shepherd of the fold:
Let us kneel with Mary maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With saint and angel, ox and ass,
To hail the King of Glory.
Gerard Manley Hopkins | |
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
Christmas was in the air and all was well
With him, but for a few confusing flaws
In divers of God's images.
A friend of his would neither buy nor sell,
Was he to answer for the axe that fell?
He pondered; and the reason for it was,
Partly, a slowly freezing Santa Claus
Upon the corner, with his beard and bell.
Acknowledging an improvident surprise,
He magnified a fancy that he wished
The friend whom he had wrecked were here again.
Not sure of that, he found a compromise;
And from the fulness of his heart he fished
A dime for Jesus who had died for men.
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.
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 | |
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!
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.
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!"
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.
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.
Elizabeth Bishop | |
You won't become a gourmet* cook
By studying our Fannie's book--
Her thoughts on Food & Keeping House
Are scarcely those of Lévi-Strauss.
Nevertheless, you'll find, Frank dear,
The basic elements** are here.
And if a problem should arise:
The Soufflé fall before your eyes,
Or strange things happen to the Rice
--You know I love to give advice.
* Forbidden word
** Forbidden phrase
Fannie should not be underrated;
She has become sophisticated.
She's picked up many gourmet* tricks
Since the edition of '96.
Sylvia Plath | |
Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk
Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish ----
Such queer moons we live with
Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,
The heart like wishes or free
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
Shred in his little fist.
Rg Gregory | |
i got nothing last year
and i expect nothing this
so i've got to find
if i'm to be rewarded
so all good people
you'd better learn to give
from the goodness of your heart
or at knife-point
i'm a taker by trade
takers is keepers
it won't hurt you to bleed
it's a good colour - red
give of your blood
you're not having mine
i'm the collector
santa looks after himself
your birthright - get lost
when i'm on my rounds
what i see i snaffle
that's today's lesson
give to santa - or
i'll cut your throat
that's today's christmas
the future looks good
Rg Gregory | |
the song wasn't up to the task
of getting through the double-glazing
into the ears pressed on the outside pane
the rest of their bodies had faded away but
the ears were straining still towards the music
in order to know the good times being had in the room
night fell the cold grew and the lights went out but
the ears hung around believing in music until
they froze and dropped to the ground like
slugs that had missed out on the seasons
it was a bad christmas for ears
Rg Gregory | |
(after hiroshige – stations of oi)
here at the sixty-ninth station
of the gregokaido road
i have a sense of completion
that is not completed yet
the long journey to this moment
has many disparate paths
fragments of people within me
have stuttered their broken mantras
what a bowl of uneasy pieces
litters the well of my bed - my name
doesn't know how to welcome
tomorrow with its single demands
this christmas will say goodbye
to the last traces of middle age
the sere's banners will be ready
to set off on its late procession
i have not gathered myselves together
with anything like that composure
wisdom and age should concoct
i have lost control of my strivings
christmas a game of new birth
the light giving hope to the dark
i wish i had the will to recover
the young coals that kept me bright
Rg Gregory | |
though there's not much faith left
and very little snow
this scene of wimborne minster
still makes its christmas show
the building's warm proportions
its sense of move-me-not
catches this winter pagan
on a most forgiving spot
christmas itself unwinds
back to that moment when
mind first let a light in
and darkness cried amen
shopping today i glide
casually on worn ice
the ocean holds its breath
prehistory hides its price
the minster's not my pigeon
yet moons upon the town
as if no one can walk there
lost to its looking down
in me some old anger
shocks its ailing ghost
lets the festive transport
use me as its staging post
however the time is barren
and so much mutters no
i share my godless pleasure
with the minster clad in snow
Thomas Hood | |
Along the Woodford road there comes a noise
Of wheels, and Mr.
Rounding's neat post-chaise
Struggles along, drawn by a pair of bays,
With Reverend Mr.
Crow and six small boys,
Who ever and anon declare their joys
With trumping horns and juvenile huzzas,
At going home to spend their Christmas days,
And changing learning's pains for pleasure's toys.
Six weeks elapse, and down the Woodford way
A heavy coach drags six more heavy souls,
But no glad urchins shout, no trumpets bray,
The carriage makes a halt, the gate-bell tolls,
And little boys walk in as dull and mum
As six new scholars to the Deaf and Dumb!