Archive for ‘Christmas’

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Advent Days by Kate Seymour MacLean

The centuries grow old; one after one
The circle rounds into the perfect orb,
Forging the silver links that backward run
Along the twilight slopes of hoary time,
(Which the past darkness cannot quite absorb).
To that first day of Eden’s rosy prime,
When stars and seraphs, and the crystal spheres,
In the pure ether turning, sang the world’s first morn.
In music still the slow-revolving years
Turn in their silver chain, unheard of men,
Bringing the birthday of the world again, —
Bringing the infant Christ which should be born.

Once more bright angels gather in the sky,
And the dull ear of night awakes to hear
The far-off sound of heavenly pinions furled,
And glad hosannas singing sweet and clear —
Peace, peace on Earth— glory to God on high,
In the new birth-song of the ransomed world.
O day sublime to which all other days
Flow down convergent since earth’s days begun,
And all their separate and scattered rays,
Down the vast space, unmeasured of the sun —
The twilight of the ages— merge in one,
To kindle in these later alien skies
The white lamp of that earlier paradise!

From: MacLean, Kate Seymour, Advent Days and Poems of Remembrance, 1902, The Jackson Press: Kingston, p. [unnumbered].
(https://archive.org/details/adventdayspoemso00macl/)

Date: 1902

By: Kate Seymour MacLean (1829-1916)

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day by Gwendoline (Gwen) Nessie Foster Harwood (Miriam Stone)

Gold, silver, pink and blue, the globes distort her,
framed in the doorway: woman with a broom.
Wrappings and toys lie scattered round the room.
A glossy magazine the children bought her
lies open: ‘How to keep your husband’s love’.
She stands and stares, as if in recollection,
at her own staring acid-pink reflection.
The simple fact is, she’s too tired to move.

O where’s the demon lover, the wild boy
who kissed the future to her flesh beneath
what skies, what stars, what space! and swore to love her
through hell’s own fires? A child stretches above her
and, laughing, crowns her with a tinsel wreath.
She gathers up a new, dismembered toy.

From: https://taughtalesson.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/gwen-harwoods-sonnets-love-and-romance-anything-but/

Date: 1965

By: Gwendoline (Gwen) Nessie Foster Harwood (Miriam Stone) (1920-1995)

Friday, 25 December 2020

Christmas Comes Again by Elizabeth Drew Stoddard

Let me be merry now, ’t is time;
The season is at hand
For Christmas rhyme and Christmas chime,
Close up, and form the band.

The winter fires still burn as bright,
The lamp-light is as clear,
And since the dead are out of sight,
What hinders Christmas cheer?

Why think or speak of that abyss
In which lies all my Past?
High festival I need not miss,
While song and jest shall last.

We’ll clink and drink on Christmas Eve,
Our ghosts can feel no wrong;
They revelled ere they took their leave—
Hearken, my Soldier’s Song:

“The morning air doth coldly pass,
Comrades, to the saddle spring;
The night more bitter cold will bring
Ere dying—ere dying.
Sweetheart, come, the parting glass;
Glass and sabre, clash, clash, clash,
Ere dying—ere dying.
Stirrup-cup and stirrup-kiss—
Do you hope the foe we’ll miss,
Sweetheart, for this loving kiss,
Ere dying—ere dying?”

The feasts and revels of the year
Do ghosts remember long?
Even in memory come they here?
Listen, my Sailor’s song:

“O my hearties. yo heave ho!
Anchor’s up in Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Pipes and swipes, hob and nob—
Hey!
Mermaid Bess and Dolphin Meg,
Paddle over Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Tars, haul in for Christmas Day,
For round the ’varsal deep we go;
Never church, never bell,
For to tell
Of Christmas Day.
Yo heave ho, my hearties O!
Haul in, mates, here we lay—
Hey!”

His sword is rusting in its sheath,
His flag furled on the wall;
We’ll twine them with a holly-wreath,
With green leaves cover all.

So clink and drink when falls the eve;
But, comrades, hide from me
Their graves—I would not see them heave
Beside me, like the sea.

Let not my brothers come again,
As men dead in their prime;
Then hold my hands, forget my pain,
And strike the Christmas chime.

From: https://poets.org/poem/christmas-comes-again

Date: 1895

By: Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823-1902)

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Old Santeclaus with Much Delight by Anonymous

Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’r chimney tops, and tracts of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where peace and love have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

Where e’re I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart;

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners crude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of GOD
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Santeclaus_with_Much_Delight

Date: 1821

By: Anonymous

Saturday, 5 December 2020

The Goblins’ Christmas by M. Elizabeth Anderson

The big bright Moon hung high and round,
In a densely darkened sky;
The tall pines swayed, and mocked, and groaned;
The mountains grew so high
That the Man-in-the-Moon came out and said,
“Ho! Spooks, for a merry dance.”
The winds blow hard, the caverns roar,
While o’er the earth they prance.

A Witch and a Goblin led the sprites;
Out from the sky they sprung;
And down the milky way they slid,
And over a chasm swung.
The streams around ran witches’ broth,
The fumes were strong and rank.
These Elfin creatures all were wroth,
While of the stuff they drank.

The cunning Moon looked on and laughed
With a shrill and sneering jibe;
Her soul grew fat to see them chaffed,
This mad and elfish tribe.
The big black caldron boiled so high
With food for these queer mites,
That it lit the world throughout the sky,
And down came all the Sprites.

Their mad career upset a star,
As through the air they flew:
It cringed in fear, and shot afar,
And fell where no one knew.
Orion’s sword was broke in bits,
Corona’s crown was gone,
Capella seemed to lose her wits,
While all so longed for dawn.

Then from the night there came a sound
Of sleigh-bells ringing sweet;
Out of the chaos came a man—
Kris Kringle–for his Christmas treat.
“Ho! Kris!” they cried, “We’ll have some fun,
We’ll bind the old man down,
We’ll tie him up, and toss him o’er
Into our Goblin-town.”

They climbed the sleigh with shout and din,
To bind his hands and feet;
A hundred strong they clambered in
Our good old Kris to meet.
He sat quite still, with twinkling eyes,
Then seized his mystic wand,
He raised it up, and waved it round
Stilled was this chattering band.

Stiffly stark and still they stood,
Clad in elfish clothes;
Some were wax, and some were wood,
One had crushed his nose.
“Playthings rare,” he said and smiled,
“For children rich and poor;
Some I’ll leave the crippled child,
And some at the orphan’s door.”

He shook his reins, and called his steed
To bear him swiftly on.
Full well it knew its Master’s need
To hurry e’er the dawn.
From house to house they scampered down,
Their sleigh-bells ringing clear,
Through chimneys in the sleepy town—
Good Kris and his reindeer.

The windows rattled, the moonbeams tattled
A tale so strange and queer.
They told how at night, in dire affright
The Moon had hid in fear.

That he’d called in sport his elfish court
Of spooks and witches gay,
Each Elfin child, by glee beguiled,
Brought scores of others, they say.

Then a man appeared, with flowing beard,
In a sled with a reindeer fleet;
They gathered about with din and shout,
To bind him hands and feet.

Then the Moon laughed loud at the gathering crowd,
While he held his sides in mirth,
To see old Kris in a plight like this,
Toiling o’er the earth.

But alas for the Moon, he had laughed like a loon,
For Kris is a hero of old,
Yes, Kris is a seer; with his small reindeer,
He captured the Goblins bold.

And he changed them, they say in a wonderful way,
To toys, for his Christmas cheer.
The big dolls stare with a goblin air,
The small ones cringe with fear.

While the moonbeams prattle, I hear a rattle
Of hoofs on the chimney side;
Then out on the snow I gaze below,
“Hurrah! it’s Kris Kringle,” I cried.

Then, sly as a mouse, he entered the house,
And hung up his treasures so gay.
Then out with a dash, he sped like a flash,
Into the night, and away.

From: http://www.public-domain-poetry.com/elizabeth-anderson/goblins-christmas-12797

Date: 1908

By: M. Elizabeth Anderson (fl. 1908)

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Adult Advent Announcement by David Asbury Redding

O Lord,
Let Advent begin again
In us,
Not merely in commercials;
For that first Christmas was not
Simply for children,
But for the
Wise and the strong.
It was
Crowded around that cradle,
With kings kneeling.
Speak to us
Who seek an adult seat this year.
Help us to realize,
As we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
For the old folks —
Bent backs
And tired eyes
Need relief and light
A little more.
No wonder
It was grown-ups
Who were the first
To notice
Such a star.

From: https://www.journeywithjesus.net/poemsandprayers/677-david-a-redding-adult-advent-announcement

Date: 1965

By: David Asbury Redding (1929-2013 )

Friday, 27 December 2019

On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas My True Love Phoned Me Up . . . by Dave Calder

Well, I suppose I should be grateful, you’ve obviously gone
to a lot of trouble and expense – or maybe off your head.
Yes, I did like the birds – the small ones anyway were fun
if rather messy, but now the hens have roosted on my bed
and the rest are nested on the wardrobe. It’s hard to sleep
with all that cooing, let alone the cackling of the geese
whose eggs are everywhere, but mostly in a broken smelly heap
on the sofa. No, why should I mind? I can’t get any peace
anywhere – the lounge is full of drummers thumping tom-toms
and sprawling lords crashed out from manic leaping. The
kitchen is crammed with cows and milkmaids and smells of a million stink-bombs
and enough sour milk to last a year. The pipers? I’d forgotten them –
they were no trouble, I paid them and they went. But I can’t get rid
of these young ladies. They won’t stop dancing or turn the music down
and they’re always in the bathroom, squealing as they skid
across the flooded floor. No, I don’t need a plumber round,
it’s just the swans – where else can they swim? Poor things,
I think they’re going mad, like me. When I went to wash my
hands one ate the soap, another swallowed the gold rings.
And the pear tree died. Too dry. So thanks for nothing, love. Goodbye.

From: Calder, Dave, A Big Bunch of Poems, 2010, Other Publications, Liverpool, p. [unnumbered]
(http://www.windowsproject.net/downlds/bigbunch.pdf)

Date: 2010

By: Dave Calder (19??- )

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day by Vern Rutsala

In the mud we
begin to understand.
Fictions fall away—
old skin, old hair,

old midnight pledges
scale in wet light.
Whatever was following
has caught up.

It is with us now.
Old vacancy, old tramp
riding the train
whistles, old ugly

come to visit,
old bastard Daddy
crazy drunk, warbling
hello and hacking

like a bullfrog.
We are his favorites.
His dark pockets
are stuffed with gifts—

Christmas candy matted
with lint and tobacco
is peeled out like ore
and it is just for us.

From: Rutsala, Vern, “Boxing Day” in Poetry, January 1972, p. 193.
(https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=119&issue=4&page=11)

Date: 1972

By: Vern Rutsala (1934-2014)

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Christmas Comes But Once a Year by Thomas Miller

Those Christmas bells as sweetly chime,
As on the day when first they rung
So merrily in the olden time,
And far and wide their music flung:
Shaking the tall grey ivied tower,
With all their deep melodious power:
They still proclaim to every ear,
Old Christmas comes but once a year.

Then he came singing through the woods,
And plucked the holly bright and green;
Pulled here and there the ivy buds;
Was sometimes hidden, sometimes seen —
Half-buried ‘neath the mistletoe,
His long beard hung with flakes of snow;
And still he ever carolled clear,
Old Christmas comes but once a year.

He merrily came in days of old,
When roads were few, and ways were foul,
Now staggered, — now some ditty trolled,
Now drank deep from his wassail bowl;
His holly silvered o’er with frost.
Nor never once his way he lost,
For reeling here and reeling there,
Old Christmas comes but once a year.

The hall was then with holly crowned,
‘Twas on the wild-deer’s antlers placed;
It hemmed the battered armour round,
And every ancient trophy graced.
It decked the boar’s head, tusked and grim,
The wassail bowl wreathed to the brim.
A summer-green hung everywhere,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

His jaded steed the armed knight
Reigned up before the abbey gate;
By all assisted to alight,
From humble monk, to abbot great.
They placed his lance behind the door,
His armour on the rush-strewn floor;
And then brought out the best of cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

The maiden then, in quaint attire,
Loosed from her head the silken hood,
And danced before the yule-clog fire —
The crackling monarch of the wood.
Helmet and shield flashed back the blaze,
In lines of light, like summer rays,
While music sounded loud and clear,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

What, though upon his hoary head,
Have fallen many a winter’s snow,
His wreath is still as green and red
As ‘t was a thousand years ago.
For what has he to do with care?
His wassail bowl and old arm-chair
Are ever standing ready there,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

No marvel Christmas lives so long,
He never knew but merry hours,
His nights were spent with mirth and song,
In happy homes, and princely bowers;
Was greeted both by serf and lord,
And seated at the festal board;
While every voice cried “Welcome here,”
Old Christmas comes but once a year.

But what care we for days of old,
The knights whose arms have turned to rust,
Their grim boars’ heads, and pasties cold,
Their castles crumbled into dust?
Never did sweeter faces go,
Blushing beneath the mistletoe,
Than are to-night assembled here,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

For those old times are dead and gone,
And those who hailed them passed away,
Yet still there lingers many a one,
To welcome in old Christmas Day.
The poor will many a care forget,
The debtor think not of his debt;
But, as they each enjoy their cheer,
Wish it was Christmas all the year.

And still around those good old times
We hang like friends full loth to part,
We listen to the simple rhymes
Which somehow sink into the heart,
“Half musical, half melancholy,”
Like childish smiles that still are holy,
A masquer’s face dimmed with a tear,
For Christmas comes but once a year.

The bells which usher in that morn,
Have ever drawn my mind away
To Bethlehem, where Christ was born,
And the low stable where He lay,
In which the large-eyed oxen fed;
To Mary bowing low her head,
And looking down with love sincere,
Such thoughts bring Christmas once a year.

At early day the youthful voice,
Heard singing on from door to door,
Makes the responding heart rejoice,
To know the children of the poor
For once are happy all day long;
We smile and listen to the song,
The burthen still remote or near,
“Old Christmas comes but once a year.”

Upon a gayer happier scene,
Never did holly berries peer,
Or ivy throw its trailing green,
On brighter forms than there are here,
Nor Christmas in his old arm-chair
Smile upon lips and brows more fair,
Then let us sing amid our cheer,
Old Christmas still comes once a year.

From: Vizetelly, Henry (ed.), Christmas with the Poets, a Collection of Songs, Carols, and Verses, Relating to the Festival of Christmas, from the Anglo-Normal Period to the Present Time, 1852, David Bogue: London, pp. 164-168.
(https://archive.org/details/christmaswithpo01chrigoog/)

Date: 1852

By: Thomas Miller (1807-1874)

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Mail by Theodore J. (Ted) Kooser

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb,
as the rural carrier,
driving the snowy roads,
hears from her bundles
the plaintive bleating of sheep,
the shuffle of sandals,
the clopping of camels.
At stop after stop,
she opens the little tin door
and places deep in the shadows
the shepherds and wise men,
the donkeys lank and weary,
the cow who chews and muses.
And from her Styrofoam cup,
white as a star and perched
on the dashboard, leading her
ever into the distance,
there is a hint of hazelnut,
and then a touch of myrrh.

From: https://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/columns/detail/405

Date: 2012

By: Theodore J. (Ted) Kooser (1939- )