A holiday gift of poetry for my readers, one very old and very familiar and one fairly new and less familiar. Thank you all for your loyalty to Russ on Reading and have a wonderful holiday season.
Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men!It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth," I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.
Taking Down the Tree by Jane Kenyon
“Give me some light!” cries Hamlet’s uncle midway through the murder of Gonzago. “Light! Light!” cry scattering courtesans. Here, as in Denmark, it’s dark at four, and even the moon shines with only half a heart. The ornaments go down into the box: the silver spaniel, My Darling on its collar, from Mother’s childhood in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack my brother and I fought over, pulling limb from limb. Mother drew it together again with thread while I watched, feeling depraved at the age of ten. With something more than caution I handle them, and the lights, with their tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along from house to house, their pasteboard toy suitcase increasingly flimsy. Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.By suppertime all that remains is the scent of balsam fir. If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant.Enjoy the holiday and keep reading poetry, for poetry nourishes the soul.