Originally, I planned on putting together a list of my favorite Christmas quotes. However, I just couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for—∫ut I did discover a plethora of beautiful Christmas-themed poems that I decided to share instead.Find a few minutes of respite from the season’s craziness, grab your favorite drink (tea? hot chocolate? coffee?) or Christmas cookie, and let the words of these wise men (and women) bring you back to the manger.
1. “My Resolve” ~ Grace Noll Crowell
‘Tis the most … crazy/busy/hectic/chaotic/you-name-it time of year. But if we would but pause …
I shall attend to my little errands of love
Early, this year,
So that the brief days before Christmas may be
Unhampered and clear
Of the fever of hurry.
The breathless rushing that I have known in the past
Shall not possess me.
I shall be calm in my soul
And ready at last
For Christmas: “The Mass of the Christ.”
I shall kneel and call out His name;
I shall take time to watch the beautiful light
Of a candle’s flame;
I shall have leisure-I shall go out alone
From my roof and my door;
I shall not miss the silver silence of stars
As I have before;
And, oh, perhaps-If I stand there very still,
And very long-
I shall hear what the clamor of living has kept from me:
The Angel’s song!
2. “Christmas Hath Darkness” ~ Christina Rosetti
The title of this one immediately grabbed me. Christmas has … darkness? Usually you think of light—angels, the star, all that. As always, Rosetti’s powerful imagery paves way for a lovely message.
Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
3. “Come, Emmanuel” ~ J. F. Wilson
Strange, indeed. Our God is the God of the paradox, the impossible, the supernatural, and I’m so glad He is. Revel in the miracle of the season.
Strange, this creating God of ours-
whose nature is love, and yet
whose “natural events” can
literally take your breath away.
Strange, this redeeming God of ours
who insists on battering the boundaries
of our common-sense systems of belief
with visions, voices and a virgin.
Strange, this sanctifying God of ours
who will not leave us to our own ways
but who leads us to challenge the world’s
doubt, despair and hatred with the divine
paradoxes of faith, hope and love.
Strange, this unfathomable Trinity
who will not let us balance our account
but rather keeps us in perpetual debt
for all our embarrassment of riches.
Strange, this pervading Presence –
from whom we cannot escape
with whom we find it difficult to live
without whom we know no peace.
Strange, this familiar Father of prodigals
whose love, too much for one lifetime,
wills that we shall share the
feast of forgiveness and joy
in the epilogue of eternity.
Strange, this daily advent of
4. “First Coming” ~ Madeleine L’Engle
L’Engle has such a way with words. I just discovered her poetry, and it’s every bit as beautiful and deep as her prose. Enjoy.
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace
He came when the Heavens were unsteady
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
He came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
5. “The Journey of the Magi” ~ T. S. Eliot
The last stanza is one of my favorites of all time. What did the wise men feel when they returned home? We tend to forget about them after they worship Jesus, but I like to imagine how their lives were irrevocably changed by the journey. And doesn’t the last line give you chills?
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, 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 kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might 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.
6. “Let the Stable Still Astonish” ~ Leslie Layland Fields
I believe I shared this one last year, but it’s just so beautiful and so true. I love how it paints Christmas into the larger picture—because of Christmas we have Easter, and because of Easter, we can be saved.
Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place.”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
and says, “Yes, let the God
of Heaven and Earth
be born here—
in this place.”
Tell me: Which of these is your favorite? Do you have a favorite line or stanza? And what are some other Christmas poems you enjoy?