Russian poet Joseph Brodsky was so struck by the Christmas season that he wrote a poem for Christmas every year. There He will make their laughter into bells And turn their breath to incense. Nurse gave it to you To keep for as long as you need it. It was no season then for her To wanton with the Sun, her lusty Paramour. Robert Louis Stevenson's Christmas at Sea is as maudlin as you could ask for, but, as you might expect from Stevenson, it's rather better written than most poems of its ilk. Oh, may the year to come be full of these Small serendipitous epiphanies. Nicholas was historically observed on December 6. That Santa Claus was ever linked to the Christmas holiday is itself remarkable, given that the original Feast of St. All you who by blind pulse renew The primal blessing cast in heat, And to a season's course entrust Frail issue weather can defeat, Who from flung seed grew anxious too— Deny earth feeds on them and you.
John Milton , for example, described the virgin birth this way in his poem "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity": You lay ill and afraid alone. There are, of course, lots of Christmas poems; having conducted a rigorous poll of one person, I've found that the most famous of them all is Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. These poems, now collected in his book Nativity Poems, are concerned not only with the iconography of Christmas, but also its themes: Nicholas was historically observed on December 6. The poem, of course, is now known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," after its famous first line. The little fat man with the white beard; the reindeer; the sleigh full of toys; the snow: My own favourite is The Holly and the Ivy , with its echoes of older, pre-Christian December celebrations. Once again As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed To do more than entertain it as an agreeable Possibility, once again we have sent Him away, Begging though to remain His disobedient servant, The promising child who cannot keep His word for long. It would be all too easy to mock this slushy view of the festive season, but before you give in to cynicism, I feel I should remind you of the fate of the hero of Ogden Nash's The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus. One way or another, I hope you'll feel inspired. The 19th century also appears to have been the time when Christmas became associated with hearth, home and the family, as so many things did under Victoria, and this resulted in a good deal of very sentimental versification. If you take it between finger and thumb And give it the teeniest shake, it tinkles Like babies' laughter. Nurse gave it to you To keep for as long as you need it. Auden , in his poem "For the Time Being: I went back home and fetched a sleeping bag. There He will make their laughter into bells And turn their breath to incense. Aren't we enlarged by the scale of what we're able to desire? And so I invite your seasonal poems. The vision of Christmas that is represented in these poems was remarkably resilient and enduring; there is a strong thread that links them to Wordsworth's Minstrels , a poem that dates from the very cusp of the Victorian era. Today I asked if something could be done And they brought you the little golden bell. So you cried out at the top of your voice Begging for someone, anyone, to come; But cries of distress on the ward at night Are constant and for the most part ignored. All you who by blind pulse renew The primal blessing cast in heat, And to a season's course entrust Frail issue weather can defeat, Who from flung seed grew anxious too— Deny earth feeds on them and you. Other poets find inspiration in reporting on the general atmosphere and imagery of the holiday season. It was no season then for her To wanton with the Sun, her lusty Paramour. A Christmas Oratorio," appears more interested in the modern significance of the nativity event: These three poems also serve to remind us that Christmastide has long been associated with music and song, and most of us will have a much-loved carol or two we like to sing along with.
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