Friday, December 25, 2015

Yuletide

Some people complain about the "commercialization" of Christmas.  Others complain that the season has been appropriated by the tackiest tendencies of "popular culture."  These complainers take themselves, and the World, far too seriously.

This is not surprising, for we live in the Age of Mewling.  A great number of people are aggrieved or offended by . . . well, nearly everything.  "Trigger warnings" and all that.  What a sad way to live.

The World is what it is.  On a daily basis, we have to pick and choose. Gratitude, not complaint, ought to be the basis for making our choices.

And there is always a larger context.

          Christmas Poem

We are folded all
In a green fable
And we fare
From early
Plough-and-daffodil sun
Through a revel
Of wind-tossed oats and barley
Past sickle and flail
To harvest home,
The circles of bread and ale
At the long table.
It is told, the story --
We and earth and sun and corn are one.

Now kings and shepherds have come.
A wintered hovel
Hides a glory
Whiter than snowflake or silver or star.

George Mackay Brown, The Wreck of the Archangel (John Murray 1989).

Ben Nicholson, "1930 (Christmas Night)" (1930)

Nothing about Christmas offends me.  In fact, most everything about the season delights me.  I'm happy to hear Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas" for the ten-thousandth time.  Likewise Perry Como and "Home for the Holidays" and Andy Williams and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

I love the fact that people string lights on their houses. What could be more wonderful than walking at night through a neighborhood that is full of colorful lights?  It makes me feel that all is right with the World -- like the sound of lawn mowers in the distance on a sunny Spring afternoon.  There is a great deal of truth and beauty in these simple human impulses.  Why not festively light up the night at the darkest time of the year?

                      Blind Noel

Christmas; the themes are exhausted.
Yet there is always room
on the heart for another
snowflake to reveal a pattern.

Love knocks with such frosted fingers.
I look out.  In the shadow
of so vast a God I shiver, unable
to detect the child for the whiteness.

R. S. Thomas, No Truce with the Furies (Bloodaxe Books 1995).

Harold Bush, "The Christmas Tree" (1933)

Yes, there is always a larger context.  "We are folded all in a green fable." There is absolutely nothing to complain about.

          Maeshowe:  Midwinter

Equinox to Hallowmas, darkness
     falls like the leaves.  The
     tree of the sun is stark.

On the loom of winter, shadows
     gather in a web; then the
     shuttle of St Lucy makes a
     pause; a dark weave
     fills the loom.

The blackness is solid as a
     stone that locks a tomb.
     No star shines there.

Then begins the true ceremony of
     the sun, when the one
     last fleeting solstice flame
     is caught up by a
     midnight candle.

Children sing under a street
     lamp, their voices like
     leaves of light.

George Mackay Brown, Following a Lark (John Murray 1996).

Maeshowe  (also known as "Maes Howe") is a chambered tomb located on the island of Mainland in the Orkney Islands.  It was constructed in 2800 B. C. (or thereabouts).  In the twelfth century, it was broken into by Vikings, who left behind runic inscriptions.

The entrance passage to the structure is aligned so that, at the time near and after the winter solstice, the rays of the setting sun shine against the rear wall of the tomb.  Yuletide.

"A merry Christmas, friend!"

Robin Tanner, "Christmas" (1929)

10 comments:

Fred said...

Stephen,

Merry Christmas

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well! Thank you very much for all of your visits and comments throughout the past year.

Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

Hakuna Matata, I always enjoy your shared poetry.

Sam Vega said...

Happy Christmas, Mr. Pentz, and thank you again for another year of discernment and appreciation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you and to the full moon.

Stephen Pentz said...

Ms. Mallow Woerz: Thank you very much. I'm happy you found your way here, and I hope you'll keep returning. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Stephen Pentz said...

Sam Vega: I always appreciate your visits throughout the year. Thank you very much for your long-term presence here. Happy Christmas to you as well. I wish you the best in the coming year.

Stephen Pentz said...

Anonymous: Thank you for your thoughts. I hadn't realized that today is a full moon -- due to the usual rainy weather in this part of the world, I hadn't given a thought to moon-viewing. I discovered through a little research that a Christmas full moon is a fairly rare occurrence. I appreciate your pointing it out. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tim said...

Thank you, Stephen, for the lovely Christmas gifts in your posting. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you from Beyond Eastrod (where I will be beginning a 2016 reading challenge involving the greatest poet-playwright in history -- William Shakespeare). I look forward to the coming year and your frequent gifts.

Stephen Pentz said...

Tim: Thank you very much for your kind words. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well! I admire your resolution to dive into Shakespeare: his work does contain the world, doesn't it? A fine challenge to set yourself.

I appreciate your continuing presence here, and I look forward to following Beyond Eastrod in 2016. I wish you all the best in the coming year.