Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It Is as if Infancy Were the Whole of Incarnation

It Is as if Infancy Were the Whole of Incarnation
by Luci Shaw, from Poetry for the Soul, ed. Mary Batchelor, 1995

One time of the year
the new-born child
is everywhere,
planted in madonnas' arms
hay mows, stables,
in palaces or farms,
or quaintly, under snowed gables,
gothic angular or baroque plump
naked or elaborately swathed,
encircled by Della Robbia wreaths,
garnished with whimsical
partridges and pears,
drummers and drums,
lit by oversize stars,
partnered with lambs,
peace doves, sugar plums,
bells, plastic camels in sets of three
as if these were what we need
for eternity.

But Jesus the Man is not to be seen.
We are too wary, these days,
of beards and sandalled feet.

Yet if we celebrate, let it be
that he
has invaded our lives with purpose,
striding over our picturesque traditions,
our shallow sentiment,
overturning our cash registers,
wielding his peace like a sword,
rescuing us into reality,
demanding much more
than the milk and the softness
and the mother warmth
of the baby in the storefront creche,
(only the Man would ask
all, of each of us)
reaching out
always, urgently, with strong
effective love
(only the Man would give
his life and live
again for love of us).

Oh come, let us adore him --
Christ -- the Lord.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Meditation for Christmas

A Meditation for Christmas
by Selwyn Image, from Poetry for the Soul, ed. Mary Batchelor, 1995

Consider, O my soul, what morn is this!
     Whereon the eternal Lord of all things made,
For us poor motals, and our endless bliss,
     Came down from heaven; and, in a manger laid
     The first, rich, offerings of our ransom paid:
Consider, O my soul, what morn is this!

Consider what estate of fearful woe
     Had then been ours, had he refused this birth;
From sin to sin tossed vainly to and fro,
     Hell's playthings, o'er a doomed and helpless earth!
Consider man's estate of fearful woe!

Consider to what joys he bids thee rise,
     Who comes, himself, life's bitter cup to drain!
Ah! look on this sweet Child, whose innocent eyes
     Ere all be done, shall close in mortal pain,
     That thou at last Love's Kingdom may'st attain:
Consider to what joys he bids thee rise!

Consider all this wonder, O my soul;
     And in thine inmost shrine make music sweet!
Yea, let this world, from furthest pole to pole,
     Join in thy praises this dread birth to greet;
     Kneeling to kiss thy Saviour's infant feet!
Consider all this wonder, O my soul.

Monday, December 24, 2012

After annunciation

After annunciation
by Madeline L'Engle, from A Widening Light, ed. Luci Shaw, 1984

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.

At the Manger Mary Sings

At the Manger Mary Sings
by W. H. Auden, from Poetry for the Soul, ed. Mary Batchelor, 1995.

O shut your bright eyes that mine must endanger
With their watchfulness; protected by its shade
Escape from my care: what can you discover
From my tender look but how to be afraid?
Love can but confirm the more it would deny.
     Close your bright eye.

Sleep.  What have you learned from the womb that bore you
But an anxiety your Father cannot feel?
Sleep.  What will the flesh that I gave do for you,
Or my mother love, but tempt you from his will?
Why was I chosen to teach his Son to weep?
     Little One, sleep.

Dream.  In human dreams earth ascends to Heaven
Where no one need pray nor ever feel alone.
In your first few hours of life here, O have you
Chosen already what death must be your own?
How soon will you start on the Sorrowful Way?
     Dream while you may.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December Moon

December Moon
by May Sarton, from Good Poems, ed. Garrison Keillor, 2002

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Joys That Sting

Joys That Sting
by C.S. Lewis, from Poems, ed. Walter Hooper, 1964

Oh doe not die, says Donne, for I shall hate
All women so.  How false the sentence rings.
Women?  But in a life made desolate
It is the joys once shared that have the stings.

To take the old walks alone, or not at all,
To order one pint where I ordered two,
To think of, and then not to make, the small
Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you);

To laugh (oh, one'll laugh), to talk upon
Themes that we talked upon when you were there,
To make some poor pretence of going on,
Be kind to one's old friends, and seem to care,

While no one (O God) through the years will say
The simplest, common word in just your way.