Advent and Christmas Poems

I am compiling a list of seasonal poems.  Prof. Brownlow has made a wonderful suggestion of Robert Southwell.  We can also do some poems about Winter.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

8 Responses

  1. Dot says:

    Dr. Fleming: I got this poem a few days ago.

    A Christmas Thought

    T’was a month before Christmas,
    And all through the town,
    People wore masks,
    That covered their frown.

    The frown had begun
    Way back in the Spring,
    When a global pandemic
    Changed everything.

    They called it corona,
    But unlike the beer,
    It didn’t bring good times,
    It didn’t bring cheer

    Airplanes were grounded,
    Travel was banned.
    Borders were closed
    Across air, sea and land.

    As the world entered lockdown
    To flatten the curve,
    The economy halted,
    And folks lost their nerve.

    From March to July
    We rode the first wave,
    People stayed home,
    They tried to behave.

    When summer emerged
    The lockdown was lifted.
    But away from caution,
    Many folks drifted.

    Now it’s November
    And cases are spiking,
    Wave two has arrived,
    Much to our disliking.

    It’s true that this year
    Has had sadness a plenty,
    We’ll never forget
    The year 2020.

    And just ’round the corner-
    The holiday season,
    But why be merry?
    Is there even one reason?

    To decorate the house
    And put up the tree,
    Who will see it’
    No one but me.

    And outside my window
    The snow gently falls,
    And I think to myself,
    Let’s deck the halls!

    So, I gather the ribbon,
    The garland and bows,
    As I play those old carols,
    My happiness grows.

    Christmas is not cancelled
    And neither is hope.
    If we lean on each other,
    I know we can cope.

  2. Robert Reavis says:

    A Minor Bird

    By Robert Frost

    I have wished a bird would fly away,
    And not sing by my house all day;

    Have clapped my hands at him from the door
    When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

    The fault must partly have been in me.
    The bird was not to blame for his key.

    And of course there must be something wrong
    In wanting to silence any song.

    Dr Fleming,
    Good idea about some Christmas poems and looking forward to them.

  3. James D. says:

    “Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”

    – “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” – Dylan Thomas

  4. Vince Cornell says:

    It’s more Epiphany related, but T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” is a favorite of mine.

    ‘A cold coming we had of it,
    Just the worst time of the year
    For the journey, and such a long journey:
    The ways deep and the weather sharp,
    The very dead of winter.’
    And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
    Lying down in the melting snow.
    There were times we regretted
    The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
    And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
    Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
    And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
    And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
    And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
    And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
    A hard time we had of it.
    At the end we preferred to travel all night,
    Sleeping in snatches,
    With the voices singing in our ears, saying
    That this was all folly.

    Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
    Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
    With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
    And three trees on the low sky,
    And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
    Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
    Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
    And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
    But there was no information, and so we continued
    And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
    Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

    All this was a long time ago, I remember,
    And I would do it again, but set down
    This set down
    This: were we led all that way for
    Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
    We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
    But had thought they were different; this Birth was
    Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
    We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
    But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
    With an alien people clutching their gods.
    I should be glad of another death.

  5. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I thank everyone for the poems. If the author of Dot’s anonymous parody wants to contact me, I might teach him a few simple rules of versification. I suppose I should have been more explicit in saying that I was asking for proposals, suggestions, but not poems to be posted. I’ll post the Frost poem, which I must have read but do not recall.

  6. Harry Colin says:

    A hearty “d’accord!” to Professor Brownlow’s suggestion of Southwell, and I also suggest Chesterton’s ‘Wise Men” along with Hilaire Belloc’s “Noel Noel,” which I believe came from his work “The Four Men.”

  7. Brent says:

    How about Betjeman’s “The bells of waiting Advent ring” and Jonson’s “I sing the birth was born tonight”?

  8. Vince Cornell says:

    There’s an Advent poem by Christina Rosseti (she also wrote the poem “In the Bleak Midwinter” which became the popular hymn.