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and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: ilza (
Date: December 04, 2004 06:58AM

too early to start a Xmas thread ?
The Maid-Servant at the Inn
Dorothy Parker

'It's queer'- she said - 'I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We've not had stars like that again!

And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one's better than the old.

I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You'd know he was his mother's son.

It's queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I've prayed that all is well with them.'

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: J.H.SUMMERS (
Date: December 04, 2004 10:29AM

Christmas Everywhere

EVERYWHERE, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.
Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o're brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great, no cottage too small.

Phillips Brooks

This remains one of my favorites. Phillips Brooks is best known for "O Little Town of Bethlehem."


Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: lg (
Date: December 04, 2004 01:03PM

Christmas Holidays
by Thomas Hood

Along the Woodford road there comes a noise
Of wheels, and Mr. Rounding's neat post-chaise
Struggles along, drawn by a pair of bays,
With Reverend Mr. Crow and six small boys,
Who ever and anon declare their joys
With trumping horns and juvenile huzzas,
At going home to spend their Christmas days,
And changing learning's pains for pleasure's toys.
Six weeks elapse, and down the Woodford way
A heavy coach drags six more heavy souls,
But no glad urchins shout, no trumpets bray,
The carriage makes a halt, the gate-bell tolls,
And little boys walk in as dull and mum
As six new scholars to the Deaf and Dumb!


Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 04, 2004 03:16PM

I often like to read this blank verse one by Frost:


Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: ilza (
Date: December 04, 2004 06:43PM

And it is true ?
John Betjeman

And it is true? For it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love, that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor the steeple shaking bells,
Can with this simple truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: lg (
Date: December 04, 2004 09:15PM

Time and Eternity


BEFORE the ice is in the pools,
   Before the skaters go,
Or any cheek at nightfall
   Is tarnished by the snow,

Before the fields have finished,
  Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder
  Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of
  On a summer’s day;
What is only walking
  Just a bridge away;

That which sings so, speaks so,
  When there’s no one here,—
Will the frock I wept in
   Answer me to wear?


Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: glenda smiley (
Date: December 04, 2004 10:54PM

Let Us Keep Christmas
Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
It's poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
- - - Grace Noll Crowell

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 05, 2004 10:19AM

Another Coleridge heard from:

Christmas Day

Was it a fancy, bred of vagrant guess,
Or well-remember'd fact, that He was born
When half the world was wintry and forlorn,
In Nature's utmost season of distress?
And did the simple earth indeed confess
Its destitution and its craving need,
Wearing the white and penitential weed,
Meet symbol of judicial barrenness?
So be it; for in truth 'tis ever so,
That when the winter of the soul is bare,
The seed of heaven at first begins to grow,
Peeping abroad in desert of despair.
Full many a floweret, good, and sweet, and fair,
Is kindly wrapp'd in coverlet of snow.
--Hartley Coleridge

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: lg (
Date: December 05, 2004 02:56PM

The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.


Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: rikki (
Date: December 05, 2004 08:21PM

Santa Claus in the Bush

It chanced out back at the Christmas time,
When the wheat was ripe and tall,
A stranger rode to the farmer's gate --
A sturdy man and a small.
"Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack,
And bid the stranger stay;
And we'll hae a crack for Auld Lang Syne,
For the morn is Christmas Day."

"Nay noo, nay noo," said the dour guidwife,
"But ye should let him be;
He's maybe only a drover chap
Frae the land o' the Darling Pea.

"Wi' a drover's tales, and a drover's thirst
To swiggle the hail nicht through;
Or he's maybe a life assurance carle
To talk ye black and blue,"

"Guidwife, he's never a drover chap,
For their swags are neat and thin;
And he's never a life assurance carle,
Wi' the brick-dust burnt in his skin.

"Guidwife, guidwife, be nae sae dour,
For the wheat stands ripe and tall,
And we shore a seven-pound fleece this year,
Ewes and weaners and all.

"There is grass tae spare, and the stock are fat.
Where they whiles are gaunt and thin,
And we owe a tithe to the travelling poor,
So we maun ask him in.

"Ye can set him a chair tae the table side,
And gi' him a bite tae eat;
An omelette made of a new-laid egg,
Or a tasty bit of meat."

"But the native cats have taen the fowls,
They havena left a leg;
And he'll get nae omelette at a'
Till the emu lays an egg!"

"Rin doon, rin doon, my little son Jack,
To whaur the emus bide,
Ye shall find the auld hen on the nest,
While the auld cock sits beside.

"But speak them fair, and speak them saft,
Lest they kick ye a fearsome jolt.
Ye can gi' them a feed of thae half-inch nails
Or a rusty carriage bolt."

So little son Jack ran blithely down
With the rusty nails in hand,
Till he came where the emus fluffed and scratched
By their nest in the open sand.

And there he has gathered the new-laid egg --
'Twould feed three men or four --
And the emus came for the half-inch nails
Right up to the settler's door.

"A waste o' food," said the dour guidwife,
As she took the egg, with a frown,
"But he gets nae meat, unless ye rin
A paddy-melon down."

"Gang oot, gang oot, my little son Jack,
Wi' your twa-three doggies sma';
Gin ye come nae back wi' a paddy-melon,
Then come nae back at a'."

So little son Jack he raced and he ran,
And he was bare o' the feet,
And soon he captured a paddy-melon,
Was gorged with the stolen wheat.

"Sit doon, sit doon, my bonny wee man,
To the best that the hoose can do --
An omelette made of the emu egg
And a paddy-melon stew."

"'Tis well, 'tis well," said the bonny wee man;
"I have eaten the wide world's meat,
And the food that is given with right good-will
Is the sweetest food to eat.

"But the night draws on to the Christmas Day
And I must rise and go,
For I have a mighty way to ride
To the land of the Esquimaux.

"And it's there I must load my sledges up,
With the reindeers four-in-hand,
That go to the North, South, East, and West,
To every Christian land."

"Tae the Esquimaux," said the dour guidwife,
"Ye suit my husband well!"
For when he gets up on his journey horse
He's a bit of a liar himsel'."

Then out with a laugh went the bonny wee man
To his old horse grazing nigh,
And away like a meteor flash they went
Far off to the Northern sky.

* * * * *

When the children woke on the Christmas morn
They chattered with might and main --
For a sword and gun had little son Jack,
And a braw new doll had Jane,
And a packet o' screws had the twa emus;
But the dour guidwife gat nane.

by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

from The Town and Country Journal,
12 December 1906

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: IanB (
Date: December 06, 2004 09:48AM

Eddi’s Service
AD 687

by Rudyard Kipling

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

“Wicked weather for walking,”
Said Eddi of Manhood End.
“But I must go on with the service
For such as care to attend.”

The altar-lamps were lighted,—
An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat at the windows,
The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
Pushed in through the open door.

“How do I know what is greatest,
How do I know what is least?
That is My Father’s business,”
Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

“But—three are gathered together—
Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!”
Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
Said Eddi of Manhood End,
“I dare not shut His chapel
On such as care to attend.”

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: December 06, 2004 10:00AM

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants' windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'
And they call him by 'the Savior'
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they've turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber's den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgement
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

jackson browne

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: December 06, 2004 07:01PM

Enough with the nice- let's have some Saki. Not a poem, but it's a Christmas tale.

[] />

Off to buy a watch fob....

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: December 07, 2004 01:01PM

You could get a box made out of 1000 matchsticks glued together from the Emperor of Japan's house !

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: ilza (
Date: December 07, 2004 02:16PM

beautiful, Glenda
I have to keep this one in mind . . .

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: IanB (
Date: December 10, 2004 09:36AM

'What Every Woman Knows'
by Phyllis McGinley [1948]

When little boys are able
To comprehend the flaws
In their December fable
And part with Santa Claus,
Although I do not think they grieve
How burningly they disbelieve!

They cannot wait, they cannot rest
For knowledge nibbling at the breast.
They cannot rest, they cannot wait
To set conniving parents straight.

Branding that comrade as a dunce
Who trusts the Saint they trusted once,
With rude guffaw and facial spasm
They publish their iconoclasm
And find particularly shocking
The thought of hanging up a stocking.

But little girls (no blinder
When facing mortal fact)
Are cleverer and kinder
And brimming full of tact.
The knowingness of little girls
Is hidden underneath their curls.

Obligingly, since parents fancy
The season’s tinsel necromancy,
They take some pains to make pretense
Of duped and eager innocence.

Agnostics born but Bernhardts bred,
They hang the stocking by the bed,
Listen for bells, and please their betters
By writing Kringle lengthy letters,
Only too well aware the fruit
Is shinier plunder, richer loot.

For little boys are rancorous
When robbed of any myth,
And spiteful and catankerous
To all their kin and kith.
But little girls who draw conclusions
Make profit of their lost illusions.

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 10, 2004 12:16PM

Here's another Dottie P.:

Christmas 1921

I do not ask you for presents rare,
Other-world trove of forgotten metals;
Orchids that opened to jungle air,
Tropical hate in their writhing petals;
Onyx and ebony, black as pain,
Carved with a patience beyond believing;
Perfumes, to harry the startled brain;
Laces that women have died in weaving;
Cool-tinted pearls from the ocean, where
Grottoes of dolorous green regret them.
I do not ask you for presents rare --
Dearest, I know that I wouldn't get them.

Give me your love, on this Christmas Day.
Give me your thoughts, when the chimes are ringing.
Send me the happier along my way,
Deep in my soul let your words be singing.
Give me your wishes, as bells sound clear,
Charming the air with their golden measure.
Give me your hopes for the unborn year,
Fill up my heart with a secret treasure.
Give me the things that you long to say,
All of your tenderest dreams unfetter.
Give me your love, on this Christmas Day --
But come across, please, when times get better.

From Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: December 10, 2004 01:22PM

I thought I knew most of DP's best poems, but that's new to me and very good. Thanks for posting it, Hugh - is the rest of the book as good or is it, like most very posthumous stuff, mostly poems she had discounted publishing herself?

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 12, 2004 10:13AM

is the rest of the book as good ...

Yes, worth the bucks I think. Not a thick volume, but none of hers are. Good biography section (the footnotes are longer than the referenced text). If memory serves, the title comes from Dottie being asked by a bartender at party, "What are you having?" Her response, "Not much fun."

Nothing in there, except for the biography, that does not appear in the Portable Dorothy Parker, from what the author says however.

A strange bunch of (uninteresting) 'things I hate' (free verse) poems at the last section. I cannot imagine why Parker thought they would be of interest.

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (
Date: December 12, 2004 10:43AM

My absolute favorite is "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" by Henry W. Longfellow, the last 3 lines of which have become a rousing rallying cry for all believers. The poem was set to music by John B. Calkin and has become a treasured Christmas hymn. To hear a version, go to:


I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

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.

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.”

---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow---

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: lg (
Date: December 13, 2004 03:06AM

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant
He never guessed they'd miss him, or he'd
     surely have been there;
He couldn't see his mother or the lump that
     filled her throat,
Or the tears that started falling as she read
     his hasty note;
And he couldn't see his father, sitting sor-
     rowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written that he thought
     he couldn't come.

He little knew the gladness that his presence
     would have made,
And the joy it would have given, or he never
     would have stayed.
He didn't know how hungry had the little
     mother grown
Once again to see her baby and to claim him
     for her own.
He didn't guess the meaning of his visit
     Christmas Day
Or he never would have written that he
     couldn't get away.

He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that
     once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't
     stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next
     Christmas it might be
There would be no home to visit and no mother
     dear to see.
He didn't think about it -- I'll not say he didn't
He was heedless and forgetful or he'd surely
     have been there.

Are you going home for Christmas? Have you
     written you'll be there?
Going home to kiss the mother and to show
     her that you care?
Going home to greet the father in a way to
     make him glad?
If you're not I hope there'll never come a time
     you'll wish you had.
Just sit down and write a letter -- it will make
     their heart strings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness -- if you'll tell
     them that you'll come.


Post Edited (12-13-04 02:16)

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 13, 2004 01:04PM

There was an old scrooge, Ebenezer,
A cold-hearted, miserly geezer,
Who harbored a whim
To molest Tiny Tim
By luring the lad to his freezer.

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: December 17, 2004 08:10PM

Santa Claus

On wool-soft feet he peeps and creeps,
While in the moon-blanched snow,
Tossing their sled-belled antlered heads,
His reindeer wait below.
Bright eyes, peaked beard, and bulging sack,
He stays to listen, and look, because
A child lies sleeping out of sight,
And this is Santa Claus.
"Hast thou, in Fancy, trodden where lie
Leagues of ice beneath the sky?
Where bergs, like palaces of light,
Emerald, sapphire, crystal white,
Glimmer in the polar night?
Hast though heard in dead of dark
The mighty Sea-lion's shuddering bark?
Seen, shuffling through the crusted snow,
The blue-eyed Bears a-hunting go?
And in leagues of space o'erhead--
Radiant Aurora's glory spread?
Hast thou?" "Why?" "My child, because
There dwells thy lovèd Santa Claus."
==Walter de la Mare

Re: and so this is Christmas . . .
Posted by: rikki (
Date: December 18, 2004 02:48AM

Carol for the Last Christmas Eve

The first night, the first night,
The night that Christ was born,
His mother looked in his eyes and saw
Her maker in her son.

The twelfth night, the twelfth night,
After Christ was born,
The Wise Men found the child and knew
Their search has just begun.

Eleven thousand, two fifty nights,
After Christ was born,
A dead man hung in the child's light
And the sun went down at noon.

Six hundred thousand or thereabout nights,
After Christ was born,
I look at you and you look at me
But the sky is too dark for us to see
And the world waits for the sun.

But the last night, the last night,
Since ever Christ was born,
What his mother knew will be known again,
And what was found by the Three Wise Men,
And the sun will rise and so may we,
On the last morn, on Christmas morn,
Umpteen hundred and eternity.

Norman Nicholson (1910-1987)

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