Poems for Christmas



Moonless darkness stands between

by: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.


The Oxen

Poem by Thomas Hardy.

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.



A Christmas Hymn

by Richard Wilber

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

This child through David’s city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull, and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave his kingdom come.

Yet he shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God’s blood upon the spearhead,
God’s love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
In praises of the child,
By whose descent among us,
The worlds are reconciled.



Carman, Bliss, (1861-1929)

In a far Eastern country
It happened long of yore,
Where a lone and level sunrise
Flushes the desert floor,
That three kings sat together
And a spearman kept the door.

Gaspar, whose wealth was counted
By city and caravan;
With Melchior, the seer
Who read the starry plan;’
And Balthasar, the blameless,
Who loved his fellow man.

There while they talked, a sudden
Strange rushing sound arose,
And as with startled faces
They thought upon their foes,
Three figures stood before them
In imperial repose.

One in flame-gold and one in blue
And one is scarlet clear,
With the almighty portent
Of sunrise they drew near!
And the kings made obeisance
With hand on breast, in fear.

“Arise,” said they, “we bring you
Good tidings of great peace!
To-day a power is wakened
Whose working must increase,
Till fear and greed and malice
And violence shall cease.”

The messengers were Michael,
By whom all things are wrought
To shape and hue; and Gabriel
Who is the lord of thought;
And Rafael without whose love
All toil must come to nought.

Then Rafael said to Balthasar,
“In a country west from here
A lord is born in lowliness,
In love without a peer.
Take grievances and gifts to him
And prove his kingship clear!

“By this sign ye shall know him;
Within his mother’s arm
Among the sweet-breathed cattle
He slumbers without harm,
While wicked hearts are troubled
And tyrants take alarm.”

And Gabriel said to Melchior,
“My comrade, I will send
My star to go before you,
That ye may comprehend
Where leads your mystic learning
In a humaner trend.”

And Michael said to Gaspar,
“Thou royal builder, go
With tribute to thy riches!
Though time shall overthrow
Thy kingdom, no undoing
His gentle might shall know.”

Then while the kings’ hearts greatened
And all the chamber shone,
As when the hills at sundown
Take a new glory on
And the air thrills with purple,
Their visitors were gone.

Then straightway up rose Gaspar,
Melchior and Balthasar,
And passed out through the murmur
Of palace and bazar,
To make without misgiving
The journey of the Star.



photo: Tejvan, Sri Chinmoy Centre galleries