Friday, December 24, 2010

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years . . .

. . . are met in thee tonight, O little town of Bethlehem.

And the Word was made Flesh, bringing salvation. It's the human side that has led to centuries of anxiety and destruction. But not tonight.

Merry Christmas to all in whatever that merriment means to you.

Thoughts on Christmas Eve from the poet John Ciardi, from 1947.


Salvation's angel in a tree
Stared out at Blake, and stares at me
From zodiacs of colored bells,
And colored lights, and lighted shells,
A cherub's face above a sheet:
No arms, no torso, and no feet,
But winged and wired against the Fall,
And a paper halo over all-
A nineteen-hundred-year-old doll
In a drying tree. What does it see?

The house is sleeping; there's only me
In the cellophane snow by the lethal toys
That wait all night for the eager boys:
Metal soldiers, an Indian suit,
Raider's tools, and gunner's loot.
I mash my cigarette, and good night,
Turn off the angel and the light
On a single switch. The children toss
In excited sleep. Alone in the house,
I feel the old, confusing wind
Shake the dark tree and shake my mind,
Hearing tomorrow rattle and bang
Louder than all the angels sang.
By feel, I lower the thermostat
And pick my way through a creaking flat,
The demon children, the angel doll,
Sleep in two darks off one dark hall,
I move through darkness memorized,
Feeling for doors.

One half-surprised
Wish stays lit inside my head.
I leave it on and go to bed.

2 comments:

dorki said...

That might make me start to like poetry. Ciardi nailed the feeling of meaninglessness one can get looking at the trinkets and trappings that has come to define "xmas". For the devout Christian it is truly a celebration of Christ. For those of other faiths or no faith at all this should be at least a time to hold friends and family dear.

This season of the lengthening of days should be joyous to all. May yours be of good cheer.

M.A.Peel said...

Hi dorki, hope you had a merry and blessed Christmas yourself. Ciardi's poem is particularly powerful.