Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Overstreet

Christmas Poems

Recommended Posts

I've been asked to bring some poetry to a Christmas event.

Do you have favorite poems that are either directly related to Christmas, or which seem especially poignant at this time of year?


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Funkytown."    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Christmas Carol

By G. K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap

His hair was like a light.

(O weary, weary were the world

But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast

His hair was like a star.

(O stern and cunning are the kings

But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart

His hair was like a fire.

(O weary, weary is the world

But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee

His hair was like a crown

And all the flowers looked up at Him

And all the stars looked down.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

King Cole

by George MacDonald

King Cole he reigned in Aureoland,

But the sceptre was seldom in his hand

Far oftener was there his golden cup—

He ate too much, but he drank all up!

To be called a king and to be a king,

That is one thing and another thing!

So his majesty’s head began to shake,

And his hands and his feet to swell and ache,

The doctors were called, but they dared not say

Your majesty drinks too much Tokay;

So out of the king’s heart died all mirth,

And he thought there was nothing good on earth.

Then up rose the fool, whose every word

Was three parts wise and one part absurd.

Nuncle, he said, never mind the gout;

I will make you laugh till you laugh it out.

King Cole pushed away his full gold plate:

The jester he opened the palace gate,

Brought in a cold man, with hunger grim,

And on the dais-edge seated him;

Then caught up the king’s own golden plate,

And set it beside him: oh, how he ate!

And the king took note, with a pleased surprise,

That he ate with his mouth and his cheeks and his eyes,

With his arms and his legs and his body whole,

And laughed aloud from his heart and soul.

Then from his lordly chair got up,

And carried the man his own gold cup;

The goblet was deep and wide and full,

The poor man drank like a cow at a pool.

Said the king to the jester—I call it well done

To drink with two mouths instead of one!

Said the king to himself, as he took his seat,

It is quite as good to feed as to eat!

It is better, I do begin to think,

To give to the thirsty than to drink!

And now I have thought of it, said the king,

There might be more of this kind of thing!

The fool heard. The king had not long to wait:

The fool cried aloud at the palace-gate;

The ragged and wretched, the hungry and thin,

Loose in their clothes and tight in their skin,

Gathered in shoals till they filled the hall,

And the king and the fool they fed them all;

And as with good things their plates they piled

The king grew merry as a little child.

On the morrow, early, he went abroad

And sought poor folk in their own abode—

Sought them till evening foggy and dim,

Did not wait till they came to him;

And every day after did what he could,

Gave them work and gave them food.

Thus he made war on the wintry weather,

And his health and the spring came back together.

But, lo, a change had passed on the king,

Like the change of the world in that same spring!

His face had grown noble and good to see,

And the crown sat well on his majesty.

Now he ate enough, and ate no more,

He drank about half what he drank before,

He reigned a real king in Aureoland,

Reigned with his head and his heart and his hand.

All this through the fool did come to pass.

And every Christmas-eve that was,

The palace-gates stood open wide

And the poor came in from every side,

And the king rose up and served them duly,

And his people loved him very truly.

================================================

Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right

by Blind Willie Johnson

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right, long way from home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right, long way from home

Be careful how you treat a stranger, be mindful how you turn him away

You may be entertainin’ an angel, would you drive him from your gate?

Well, be mindful of your speakin’, be careful how you’re goin’ down

You must always treat a stranger right, and accept him in your home

Well, Christ came down as a stranger, he didn’t have no home

Well, he was cradled in a manger, and the oxen kept him warm

Well, the wise men found the stranger when the child was one day old

They were careful how they treated him, well, they offered him gifts of gold

Well, all of us down here are strangers, this world is not our home

So don’t you never hurt your brother and cause him to stumble on

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a good event. Here are a few. Hope not too late!

On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, by John Milton

Noel, by Anne Porter

"Nativity," by John Donne

With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,

Now leaves his welbelov'd imprisonment,

There he hath made himself to his intent

Weak enough, now into our world to come;

But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th'Inne no roome?

Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,

Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent

Th'effect of Herod's jealous general doom;

Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith's eyes, how he

Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?

Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high, T

hat would have need to be pitied by thee?

Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,

A Christmas Hymn, by Richard Wilbur (has been set to music)

A stable-lamp is lighted

Whose glow shall wake the sky;

The stars shall bend their voices,

And every stone shall cry.

And every stone shall cry,

And straw like gold shall shine;

A barn shall harbor heaven,

A stall become a shrine.

This child through David’s city

Shall ride in triumph by;

The palm shall strew its branches,

And every stone shall cry.

And every stone shall cry,

Though heavy, dull, and dumb,

And lie within the roadway

To pave His kingdom come.

Yet He shall be forsaken,

And yielded up to die;

The sky shall groan and darken,

And every stone shall cry.

And every stone shall cry

For stony hearts of men:

God’s blood upon the spearhead,

God’s love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,

The low is lifted high;

The stars shall bend their voices,

And every stone shall cry.

And every stone shall cry

In praises of the child

By whose descent among us

The worlds are reconciled.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a thread to share our favorite poems celebrating and reflecting on Christmas.
 
G.K. Chesterton wrote a number of Christmas poems, and all of them are good. Probably the most famous one is "A Christmas Carol":
 

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
 
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
 
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
 
The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

 
Another of my favorite Chesterton ones is "Gloria in Profundis":
 

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is spilt on the sand.
 
Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?
 
For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.
 
Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

 
I also love "The Nativity" by C.S. Lewis:
 

Among the oxen (like an ox I'm slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox's dullness, might at length
Give me an ox's strength.
 
Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beast like folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.
 
Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!

 
There's also T.S. Eliot's wonderful Journey of the Magi.
 
I know about W.H. Auden's For the Time Being, but I haven't read the whole thing.
 
Any other suggestions?

Edited by Rushmore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not the same direction as the poems above, but Neil Gaiman's "Nicholas Was.." is a fun/dark Christmas story. There's an excellent animated version of it, too.

 

 


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

There's also T.S. Eliot's wonderful Journey of the Magi.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

"Journey of the Magi" and the "Nicholas Was" video are oddly complementary!

 

I love these lines from Christina Rosetti's "A Christmas Carol"

 

Born in a stable,

Cradled in a manger,

In the world His hands had made

Born a stranger.

 

 

 

 

There's "The Gift", from William Carlos Williams  (I butchered his lovely spacing).

As the wise men of old brought gifts

guided by a star

to the humble birthplace

 

of the god of love,

the devils

as an old print shows

retreated in confusion.

 

What could a baby know

of gold ornament

of frankincense and myrrh,

of priestly robes

and devout genuflections?

 

But the imagination

knows all stories

before they are told

and knows the truth of this one

past all defection.

 

The rich gifts

so unsuitable for a child

though devoutly proffered,

stood for all that love can bring.

 

The men were old

how could they know

of a mother's needs

or a child's

appetite?

 

But as they kneeled

the child was fed.

They saw it

and

gave praise!

 

A miracle had taken place,

hard gold to love,

a mother's milk!

Before

their wondering eyes.

 

The ass brayed

the cattle lowed.

It was their nature.

 

All men by their nature give praise.

It is all

they can do.

 

The very devils

by their flight give praise.

What is death,

beside this?

 

Nothing. The wise men

came with gifts

and bowed down

to worship

this perfection.

 

 

 

 

And here are the last 3 stanzas of Galway Kinnell's  "To Christ Our Lord"

 (from the perspective of a boy at Christmas dinner).

He had not wanted to shoot. The sound

Of wings beating into the hushed air

Had stirred his love, and his fingers

Froze in his gloves, and he wondered,

Even so hungry, could he fire? Then he fired.

 

Now the grace praised his wicked act. At its end

The bird on its plate

Stared at his stricken appetite.

Had there been nothing to do but surrender,

To kill and to eat? He ate as he had killed, with wonder.

 

At night on snowshoes on the drifting field

He wondered again, for whom had love stirred?

The stars glittered on the snow and nothing answered.

Then the Swan spread her wings, cross of the cold north,

The pattern and mirror of the acts of earth.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here are the last 3 stanzas of Galway Kinnell's  "To Christ Our Lord"

 (from the perspective of a boy at Christmas dinner).

He had not wanted to shoot. The sound

Of wings beating into the hushed air

Had stirred his love, and his fingers

Froze in his gloves, and he wondered,

Even so hungry, could he fire? Then he fired.

 

Now the grace praised his wicked act. At its end

The bird on its plate

Stared at his stricken appetite.

Had there been nothing to do but surrender,

To kill and to eat? He ate as he had killed, with wonder.

 

At night on snowshoes on the drifting field

He wondered again, for whom had love stirred?

The stars glittered on the snow and nothing answered.

Then the Swan spread her wings, cross of the cold north,

The pattern and mirror of the acts of earth.

Oh, I love that. Thanks for sharing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...