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A Few Poems to Warm the Heart at Christmas

Before TV, Christmas cheer was expressed in writing.

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We all have our favorite Christmas movies and songs, but before film and sound recordings were invented, people had to rely more on the printed word to communicate their feelings about the season. In order to embrace the centuries of tradition, LNGenZ presents three poems, each one chosen to represent a different aspect of Christmas.

What better choice to begin than a retelling of the reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ? Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) was a Missouri-born American poet known for her classical style. Here, she provides a straightforward yet elegant account of the biblical tale.

Christmas Carol

Sara Teasdale

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.
 
The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.
 
The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.
 
The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.
 
The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.
 
The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.

~

Helen Maria Williams was a British writer and translator who lived much of her life in Paris. Williams, who must have felt acute homesickness at certain trying times, provides in this poem a delightful description of how the small things can make a big difference.

To Mrs. K, On Her Sending Me An English Christmas Plum-Cake At Paris

Helen Maria Williams

What crowding thoughts around me wake,
What marvels in a Christmas-cake!
Ah say, what strange enchantment dwells
Enclosed within its odorous cells?
 
Is there no small magician bound
Encrusted in its snowy round?
For magic surely lurks in this,
A cake that tells of vanished bliss;
 
A cake that conjures up to view
The early scenes, when life was new;
When memory knew no sorrows past,
And hope believed in joys that last! —
 
Mysterious cake, whose folds contain
Life’s calendar of bliss and pain;
That speaks of friends for ever fled,
And wakes the tears I love to shed.
 
Oft shall I breathe her cherished name
From whose fair hand the offering came:
For she recalls the artless smile
Of nymphs that deck my native isle;
 
Of beauty that we love to trace,
Allied with tender, modest grace;
Of those who, while abroad they roam,
Retain each charm that gladdens home,
 
And whose dear friendships can impart
A Christmas banquet for the heart!
~

“Peace on Earth, good will to men.” Is any phrase more synonymous with the meaning of Christmas?

It is taken from the Gospel of Luke 2:14, which describes angels appearing before the shepherds to deliver news of the birth of Christ.

In this 1863 poem, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow incorporates the quote to deliver a message of hope for humanity, even for those who previously had none. In 1872, the poem was adapted to create the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which eventually became a hit for Bing Crosby in 1956.

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
 
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Laura Valkovic

Socio-political Correspondent at LibertyNation.com and Managing Editor of LNGenZ.com. Eclectic in interests and political philosophies, Laura came to journalism after years of working as an educator. Her background as a historian has informed her research and writing styles, as well as her approach to current affairs. Born and raised in Australia, Laura currently resides in Great Britain.

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