As Christmas time approaches and autumn fades away, a distinct sense of cheerfulness and festivity enters the air each year. There are many fun things to do and sights to see, such as gazing at holiday lights, decorating a Christmas tree, baking cookies, and shopping for friends and family. And what better to top it all off than a nice collection of Christmas poems?
“Holiday” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;–
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;– a Fairy Tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.
Many hymns were first written without music. And while they have become beautiful songs, they can still be read as poems. And what better way to remember the true meaning of Christmas than to read or listen to Christmas hymns, with or without music?
From “O Holy Night” by Placide Cappeau and Adolphe Adam
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the Wise Men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend
“The Joy of Giving” by John Greenleaf Whittier
Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing
Returns to make you glad.
“Ice” by Gail
In the warming house, children lace their skates,
Bending, choked, over their thick jackets.
A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy
it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,
clumping across the frozen beach to the river.
December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,
the first sheer ice, black, then white
and deep until the city sends trucks of men
with wooden barriers to put up the boys’
hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,
of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour
of distances moved backwards without falling,
then—twilight, the warming house steamy
with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs
aching. Outside, the hockey players keep
playing, slamming the round black puck
until it’s dark, until supper. At night,
a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.
Although there isn’t music, they glide
arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,
braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never
be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,
find her perfect, skate with her
in circles outside the emptied rink forever?
“Boy at the Window” by Richard Wilbur
Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In the dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.
The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas poetry collection without a little Shel Silverstein to brighten the atmosphere!
“Snowball” by Shel Silverstein
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first it wet the bed.
And lastly, here is a poem I wrote myself!
“A Perfect Christmas Night” by Emma Grob
Through a silent night;
Brushing a baby’s face,
Revealing tracks of those
Who came from around.
A mother’s tearstained face
And joy in their hearts
Is what Christmas
Is all about.
Winter is a magical time of the year as snow falls and decorations are unboxed. And this year, the beauty and cheer around us are good reminders that we still have a lot to be grateful for in this season. Have a very merry Christmas!
“Holidays.” Poets.org. poets.org/poem/holidays Accessed November 5, 2020.
“Ice.” Poetry Foundation. www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/37008/ice-56d21a60062bd Accessed November 5, 2020.
“O Holy Night.” Genius. genius.com/Christmas-songs-o-holy-night-lyrics November 20, 2020.
“Blizzard.” Poetry Foundation. www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45496/blizzard-56d225206b7ca Accessed November 5, 2020.
“Boy at the Window.” Internet Poetry Archive. www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/wilbur/boy_at_the_window.php Accessed November 5, 2020.
“Snowball.” Familyfriend Poems. www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/snowball-by-shel-silverstein Accessed November 5, 2020.
Ryken, Leland. “Hymns as Poems.” Credo, August 21, 2018, credomag.com/2018/08/hymns-as-poems/ November 19, 2020.
“The Joy of Giving.” Neven MacEwan. January 30, 2019. www.nevenmacewan.com/quotes.htm?date=2019-01-30 Accessed November 5, 2020.