Saturday, December 24, 2016

Charles Dickens on Christmas

There are many Christmas poems, and I'm always on the lookout for new ones. What I really like, though, are poems that reach out beyond the obvious Christian message to something more universal.

 I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas Poems!

The popular Carol “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” comes from a poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882). Written in 1863 during the heart of the Civil War, it reflects world turmoil similar to what we all might feel today. Omitting three dark stanzas about the Civil war, it goes:

 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!

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.”

This is still a little sappy for me, depending again on the mighty hand of God to make everything right again. My current favorite Christmas "poem" is actually a poetic section from a Charles Dickens essay, What Christmas Is As We Grow Older.

                                  Welcome, everything!
                             Welcome, alike what has been,
                                   and what never was,
                               and what we hope may be,
                         to your shelter underneath the holly,
                       to your places round the Christmas fire,
                           where what is sits open-hearted! 

And here is a link to the complete essay. Enjoy!

What Christmas Is as We Grow Older; Charles Dickens

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Best Christmas Ever (in response to a writing prompt)

Best Christmas Ever 
                        Like asking which of your children you love the most

There was the first Christmas
when I was the prince
unknowing head of the grand-kids brigade

There was Christmas in Maine
warm house         a turkey
a small model train

There was grandparents Christmas
loving old man         silvery woman
polished wood floors        light in the windows

There was growing boys Christmas
with pairs of real skis
endless days in the snow for my brother and I

There were years of dark Christmas
not too many I guess
sitting in quiet and counting the losses

There were Christmases      children
my wife’s loving tree
home-made decorations placed to cement

our hearts to our family
to ancient ancestors 
to dim winter evenings

to bonding of campfires
after a low-passing
sun has gone down

now Christmas is lights
strung up on the houses
ornaments carefully tended and hung

and after all of the parties have passed
along with the crowded living room mornings
Christmas comes as it will            year after year

and rests on our shoulders     a dusting of snow

© Frank Kearns 2016