Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

I'm giving myself a birthday present today by looking at a poem by one of my very favorite poets, Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894). We'll review her work again in the coming year, so I'll save the biographical material for later. However I will say that this poem, like last week's Longfellow selection, is a poem that was adapted as a Christmas carol. Often, only the first and last stanzas are sung, and the lyrics are slightly altered to fit the tune, but the whole poem describes the power and majesty - as well as the humility - of the story of the Nativity. It has a quiet strength like "Silent Night."

The song is called "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" (click here to see it performed by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir, music by Gustav Holst), but Miss Rossetti calls her poem, simply, "A Christmas Carol."

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
Throng'd 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.

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