Christmas Time – time to enjoy …

ChristmasTable

‘Riversdale’ – National Trust Property, Goulburn NSW on their Open Day 5 November

Christmas Time

Christmas time and holy bells chime
family time
and even if family are away
enjoy the day!

in the bright sun of Christmas morn
Christ was born!

it’s not the time to be forlorn
so please join in and play your part
tolerate the family fart!

family time, enjoy the day! Christ was born!

Richard Scutter

A Christmas Ovillejo, a Spanish poetic form …

10 lines
3 rhyming couplets, lines of eight syllables
second lines (lines 2,4,6) are short and only 3 or 4 syllables and are a reflection or comment on the first line of the couplet
then a quatrain ‘abba’
last line combines line 2, 4, and 6 as one line

Enjoyment may not be easy for those that find Christmas a very difficult time of the year for whatever reason.

The Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot

The Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot is a favourite Christmas poems. It is what I might call a factual poetic view of what the journey would have been like. At the same time giving latent links to events described in the bible. And of course giving the full implication of the birth of Christ.

Here is a link to this poem and more discussion

 

A Song for Simeon – T. S. Eliot – Analysis

Looking at T. S..Eliot’s poem ‘A Song for Simeon’ based on the Gospel of Luke 2 verses 25-35 and the the followomg ‘Song of Simeon’ text –

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

My comments in bracketted italics.

A Song for Simeon

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

(The Roman Hyacinths denote the foreign domination at the time of Christ. A powerful description of old age … waiting for death … but there is sun in the distance … but waiting for the wind that chills … the ending of the journey … but Simeon is ‘waiting for the consolation of Israel’ before he can die. He will eventually get a very personal appreciation of that consolation.)

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

(Simeon’s testimony to a good life … but knowing that the world will change after the birth of JC … foreseeing the future … a time of sorrow and of fleeing from persecution by escaping to the mountains … fleeing from foreign armies and their weapons)

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no tomorrow.

(It is a season of birth and death … the death of winter and the birth of spring …  the death of the old order associated with the consolation and what this will bring to the world – he is now ready to die … he has been to the Temple and held the consolation of Israel ‘the child Christ’ in his own arms)

According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

(Simeon sees the full consequences of the coming of the Lord’s Christ. He wants to depart without further participation. The ‘saint’s stair’ is not for him. His dying will be the same as those after him. The last lines give his final plea for departure having seen the ‘salvation’.)

T. S. Eliot

I have always thought the ‘Song of Simeon’ to be a beautiful representation of an aging gentleman who has led a good life and is ready to die. His life is now complete. He is happy to leave this world in peace and in the knowledge that all peoples will have access to this salvation. The inclusive nature so important in a world that is so divisive.

In the Bleak Mid-Winter – Christina Rossetti

A Christmas Carol

In the bleak mid-winter
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 mid-winter
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 mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air –
But only His mother
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.

Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

Christina Rossetti was asked to write a Christmas poem for a magazine and so she had to consider the audience and clearly she has stayed true to the traditional Christmas story. And quite clearly she has but poetic thought in creating five eight line stanzas with rhyme and rhythm. So much so that her words have been used to create one of the most popular Christmas carols and the first line ‘in the bleak mid-winter’ has become well known.

S1 – she lived in London so snow and a winter Christmas was synonymous. Winter is always an appropriate setting for the coming of Christ … for the birth of redemption in a cold hard bleak world. And looking back on 2015 it doesn’t take much to see that a little bleakness is in evidence.

S2 – in this stanza there is an interpretation of biblical passages so Christina must have been familiar with her bible – the first four lines of the stanza are questioned in the analysis in Wikipedia (see the footnote below) … the lines ‘Heaven and earth shall flee away / When He comes to reign’ suggest a second coming – but who has any idea how this will manifest itself! Perhaps a daughter will be sent next time, that would show a nice balance between the sexes.

S3 – I have always liked the humble beginnings and the makeshift environment for the arrival of the most powerful entity imaginable.

S4 – of all the people and paraphernalia around the stable it is the mother Mary who truly worships the new born with a kiss. Whether or not He cried when He was born we do not know – perhaps it would be quite poetic and very appropriate if he had.

cherubim = angel, chubby-faced child
seraphim = an angel of the highest order of nine rankings

S5 – this shows a personal identity with Jesus … and if we have any understanding of the Christ gift in its unimaginable enormity then there is only one gift in return – it costs of course.

May you appreciate your gifts this Christmas and enjoy with family and friends.

Here is a You Tube recording of the carol sung by Susan Boyle

Footnote …

From Wikipedia … Wikipedia Analysis

‘Hymnologist and theologian Ian Bradley has questioned the poem’s theology: “Is it right to say that heaven cannot hold God, nor the earth sustain, and what about heaven and earth fleeing away when he comes to reign?”[3] However I Kings 8.27, in Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple, says: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.” Regarding “heaven and earth fleeing away”, many New Testament apocalyptic passages use such language, principally Revelation 20. 11 “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (KJV). Similar language is used in II Peter 3. 10-11: “The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire… That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (NIV).’