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A Poem for Christmas

red berries in ice
Image via pxhere | CC0 (public domain)

I meant to put this up yesterday, but I was distracted by Santa’s generosity with Dove chocolates, a Christmas nap with a snuggling child, and a family viewing of that holiday classic, The Lego Batman Movie.

But it’s still Christmas — if the second day, not the first. Instead of two calling birds, I give you a poem by the nineteenth-century British poet Christina Rossetti. Her poetry often reflects on the experience of being a woman, and this poem is no exception: she places Mary’s simply, physical breastmilk and kiss on the same level as the worship of heavenly beings.

“In the Bleak Midwinter,” Christina Rossetti (via Poetry Foundation)

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,

Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,

The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;

But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

May you have a joyous Christmas season, in the promise and hope of Advent and Incarnation.

Tagged: advent | Christmas | poetry