Speaking of Christmas

[Christina] Rossetti is a poetess who at times is playfully, teasingly coy and at times is frustrating in her total lack of wordplay. Here there is a sense of sparseness, of reverence that I so love. While I appreciate her other works, it is this poem that I love most dearly.   Here she could be speaking to two or more extremely different experiences of Christmas. Perhaps that is why with many great writings from which to choose which speak directly to the Christmas event, with more than one even by this poetess, this one is my favorite. There needs to be a bit of mystery when we speak to our religious experiences. It is in this way that we should speak of Christ, of Christmas, of things so profound and deeply, personally affecting. Whatever it is that Christmas means to you, I could not relay with the finite tools of language relay precisely what it means to me precisely, and I am somewhat convinced that this is by design.
I wish for everyone, whatever your religious belief or lack thereof, something to believe in, a sense of peace, allowances for profound and unexpected joy, and of course, always love.

‘Christmas Eve’, by Christina Rossetti

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 answring* 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.

*Rossetti’s spelling of ‘answering.’


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