Tuesday 22 December 2015

More Christmas Poetry

There may be somewhere some poor benighted fools, who complain that I am just  re-posting poems that I have posted before. But I protest that if a poem was worth posting last year, it is surely worth posting this. However, I have by no means exhausted the stock of verse worth reading over Christmas, and just to prove how ill-informed such critics are, here are two poems, which I have never cited before, and which (I think) are previously unposted on the Web.

The first has been set to music, so may be familiar to those who sing.

For The Nativity

Shepherds, I sing you, this winter's night
Our Hope new-planted, the womb'd, the buried Seed:
For a strange Star has fallen, to blossom from a tomb,
And infinite Godhead circumscribed, hangs helpless at the breast.

Now the cold airs are musical, and all the ways of the sky

Vivid with moving fires, above the hills where tread
The feet - how beautiful - of them that publish peace.

The sacrifice, which is not made for them,

The angels comprehend, and bend to earth
Their worshipping way. Material kind Earth
Gives Him a Mother's breast, and needful food. 

A Love, shepherds, most poor,
And yet most royal, kings,
Begins this winter's night;
But oh, cast forth, and with no proper place,
Out in the cold He lies!

John Heath-Stubbs

The second is by a local, Cumbrian poet, Norman Nicholson:

Poem for Epiphany

Three Kings stepped out of my body
Walked across the sand by the wild sea
From December into January

A King stepped out of my head
And before him the sand was red
And the sea gold,
And he beheld
The landscape like an empire and found in
Even a sycamore leaf the plan of his domain.
And he offered the gold of his sight
The regimen of his thought
To the Child born that night.

A King stepped out of my breast
Who had the bearing of a priest.
To him the moon's movement
Was a sacrament,
And the taste of water and of wine,
The touch of bread and the weight of a stone.
And he offered the frankincense of the heart
Prayer swung in the censor on the charcoal alight,
To the Child born that night.

A King stepped out of my loins,
And black as grapes were his skin and his veins.
In him was the anger of sex
Where the blood like a sea on the shingle breaks,
The pride of living, the longing for further birth
Because of the presentiment of death.
And he offered the myrrh of tiredness, the untight'ning of the fingers from the nerve's root
To the Child born that night.

Three Kings stepped out of my body
But only my two eyes between the three - 
Only my two eyes, and the wild skies to see.

Norman Nicholson

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