Christmas Poems

In Irish, Beannachtaí na féile Nollaig linn go léir :-  

May The Blessings of Christmas Be With Us All.
 

The Risk of Birth (Christmas, 1973)
by Madeleine L’Engle

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth. 


 First Coming
by Madeleine L’Engle
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice! 



 The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold
by Madeleine L’Engle

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again. 





 Into The Darkest Hour
by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
War and tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear and lust for power,
license and greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet and silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart. 




                                                   Also by Madeleine L'Engle

He came, quietly impossible,

Out of a young girl’s womb,

A love as amazingly marvellous,

As his bursting from the tomb.

This child was fully human,

This child was wholly God.

The Hands of All Love fashioned him

Of mortal flesh and bone and blood,

The ordinary so extraordinary

The stars shook in the sky

As the Lord of all the universe

Was born to live, to love, to die.

He came, quietly impossible,

Nothing will never be the same:

Jesus, the Light of every heart-

The God we know by Name.



While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7

You could have

come
as warrior, ready
to take us on
one at a time
or en masse . . .

you could have
come
a whirlwind
swirling, twirling,
twisting around us,
flinging us up into
the air . . .

you could have
come
with a bag of
chocolates
in one hand
and
a time-out chair
in the other;

you came
a tiny
vulnerable
baby
lungs screaming for
life,
fingers grasping for
something to hold onto,
your whole being
completely depending on
us to
feed you
change you
clothe you
protect you
love you

and we were
gob-smacked.


Listening
by David Ignatow
You wept in your mother's arms
and I knew that from then on
I was to forget myself.

Listening to your sobs,
I was resolved against my will
to do well by us
and so I said, without thinking,
in great panic, to do wrong
in one's own judgment,
though others thrive by it,
is the right road to blessedness.
Not to submit to error
is in itself wrong
and pride.

Standing beside you,
I took an oath
to make your life simpler
by complicating mine
and what I always thought
would happen did:
I was lifted up in joy.


The Christmas Tapestry
Michael Hare Duke


The humdrum duties of the land,
feeding the beasts, mucking out the straw
provide the dull hessian background
of the Christmas scene.


Suddenly the tapestry is lit
by glory's gold and smirched by red threads of violence.


First the angel song
caroling the Word made flesh,
then the murderous fire of Herod's fear
slaying the Innocents.
Is conflict part of the perennial pattern
of our response to Love's story?


Colonial might,
conversion proceeding from the barrel of a gun
betray the gracious Christ;


the fear of might and money breed
Terror. Innocents of Palestine,
Arab and Jew
bleed from the bombs and guns
that violence deploys;


the flash of gunfire rapes the night's tranquility over Baghdad;
the mothers of Breslan weep for their children
and will not be comforted.
Meanwhile there's far within;
as each of us grows old
black crows of death and disease
darkening our days.
Come Love anew
let the angels' song
counterpoint our tears
and lace the clouds with glory.

Give us an unambiguous blessing
by the Birth
to paint a rainbow
above our hearts' distress.

With love and prayers for Light to overcome
the current darkness, political, ecclesiastical and personal.

The Time of the End is the Time of No Room
Thomas Merton

http://www.classic-nativityscenes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/kostner_14pc_nativity-set2.jpg

Into this world, this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because He cannot be at home in it,
because He is out of place in it,
His place is with those others for whom there is no room,
His place is with those who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied the status of persons,
who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in the world.
He is mysteriously present
in those for whom there seems to be nothing
but the world at its worst. . . .
It is in these that He hides Himself,
for whom there is no room.
from Raids on the Unspeakable
A Christmas Card
 Thomas Merton

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.
Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.
Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.
Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?
And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!
Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!
And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.



The Cultivation of Christmas Trees
T.S. Eliot

There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish — which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.
The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,

So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert
Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children
(And here I remember also with gratitude
St. Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):
So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
(By “eightieth” meaning whichever is last)
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.

Source



The Disarming Child
by Charlie Lowell

Helpless and human
Deity in the dirt,
Spirit married with flesh
We couldn’t make it to you,
But you come to us.

You always come to us.
In our stubbornness and desire,
Entitlement and shame
Remind us that we need you,
Merge your untamed Spirit with our flesh.

We try to forget those
Years of wandering.
Shackles and masters,
An eternity of doubting
And still, you come to us.

A divine intrusion
Through our scheming and chaos-
Coats of armor, angels and armies.
Do some wrecking here,
And gently come to us.

Disturb us this day
Through sorrow and through dancing,
The bliss of joy and sting of death
Past hands that would threaten and tear,
You come to us extravagantly.

From your manger lowly,
Mighty and mysterious
You come to us, Seed of Heaven
Spirit wed with flesh,
These broken hearts to mend.

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