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Archive for the ‘Christmas Poetry’ Category

trees

THE CITY had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

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Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino.
The boar’s head in hand bring I
With garlands gay and rosemary;
Qui estis in convivio.

I pray you all sing merrily
The boar’s head, I understand,
ls the chief service in this land ;
Look wherever it be found,
Servile cum cantico.

Be glad, both more and less,
For this hath ordained our steward,
To cheer you all this Christmas—
The boar’s head and mustard!
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino.

*Excerpted from The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities. R. Chambers ed., W. & R. Chambers: London-Edinburgh, 1883

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Now that it’s Christmastime
Won’t you please forgive the tearful eye?
Please forgive the shabby man on the street.
Now that we’re almost there,
On the verge of another year,
Please forgive the tattered shoes on his feet…

Hey, don’t you look away,
This can’t wait for another day.
Hey, don’t you look away,
This can’t wait for Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day we gather ’round the table,
Say the requisite Grace, with a happy face,
And wish goodwill upon the Human Race.

Now that it’s New Year’s Eve,
Won’t you please forgive the poor, who grieve?
Take a bite, and wipe your mouth on your sleeve.
Now that it’s almost here,
Raise your cup, be of good cheer,
Close your eyes and try to forget the fear…

Hey, don’t you look away,
This can’t wait for another day.
Hey, don’t you look away,
This can’t wait for New Year’s Day.

On New Year’s Eve we gather in the evening,
Drink the sparkling wine, sing Auld Lang Syne,
Make resolutions till we’re feeling fine.

Through every Christmas Day, and
Festive New Year’s Eve
My friend, I’m sad to say
There’s been a shadow, doggin’ me
And it’s
still
right
there.

– Rod Brock, 1997

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Men may talk of country-Christmasses and court-gluttony,
Their thirty-pound* buttered eggs, their pies of carp’s tongues,
Their pheasants drenched with ambergris, the carcases
Of three fat wethers bruised for gravy, to
Make sauce for a single peacock; yet their feasts
Were fasts, compared with the city’s…

Did you not observe it?
There were three sucking pigs served up in a dish,
Ta’en from the sow as soon as farrowed,
A fortnight fed with dates and muskadine,
That stood my master in twenty marks apiece,
Besides the puddings in their bellies, made
Of I know not what. — I dare swear the cook that dressed it
Was the devil, disguised like a Dutchman.

Phillip Massinger (1583-1640)

*About 240 eggs

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The Christmas Comet

Tonight, the North Wind at my back and the
Horns of the young Moon in the western sky
Carried me off to another season; I don’t know why–
Perhaps because the stars shine brightly on Winter nights.
Evening Star and Seven Sisters, riding high,
Reflect in my eye, and carry me back to Christmas–

On the streets of Seattle, 1973, with Mother and Father,
With the North Wind at my back, and a doomsayer’s cry:
“Have you heard? The Great Comet is coming!”
Such was the missive apocalyptic, on a grimy tract,
Courtesy of David Berg and the Children of God.
(A tradition as old as Yuletide: I didn’t know that, then.)

And so it was Christmas. With Doomsday near.
Yet I felt no fear at the Woolworth lunch counter, and later,
After Kohoutek rounded the sun, outbound to eternity,
With Spring at my door, I saw the Christmas Comet,
Through dusty, old surplus binoculars.
She was fragile and wraith-like, and
Beautiful beyond compare.

– Rod Brock, 12/03/08

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In the video below, “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Greg Lake is singing about a process he went through, that many people go through as they grow older:

1.) The wonder and innocence of Christmas

I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
The peal of a bell, and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

2.) The loss of innocence; the realization that “Father Christmas” isn’t real. In a broader sense this verse can be taken to mean the realization that Christmas is very much a commercial thing – the line in the prior verse, “They sold me a Silent Night” bears this out.

And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

3.) His own personal resolution as to what Christmas means. The understanding that Christmas is, in a sense, a “state of mind.” He proffers good wishes upon us, which is in itself an act of charity, then he concludes that “The Christmas we get we deserve.” And that’s really the key to what he’s trying to say. Each of us is free to keep Christmas any way he or she pleases, or not to keep it at all. It doesn’t have to be about commercialism: it is you who makes it about commercialism. The vast advertising media in the United States cultivates a two-way relationship with Christmas advertising: they sell you a concept, and either you buy it, or you don’t. But you don’t have to buy it. You can make Christmas about everything else – about charity, about caroling, about family, about togetherness, about plum pudding and mince pie. Those who are alone may reach out to others, and those who are not alone may reach out to those who are.

Am I saying: Do not buy presents? Certainly not. I am only suggesting, as I have suggested in other posts, that Christmas can be about so much more than presents, and presents will never be able to replace the things that really matter: the togetherness, now, and the memories that we will retain when we are old, long after the presents are forgotten.

Aim for joyful, memorable experiences this Christmas, and let the presents be the icing, not the cake.

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel! Be it Heaven, or Hell,
The Christmas we get we deserve.

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"Safe," by James Walker

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