Virgil. Donne. Dante. Longfellow. Frost. Yeats. Dickinson. O’Hara. Rilke. Shakespeare. Cummings. Wordsworth. Williams. Milton. Rossetti. Rumi. Whitman. Stevens. Thomas. Auden. Eliot. Belloc. Heaney. Brodksy (wrote one every year). Oliver. Ryan. Merton. Szybist. Milosz. Patchen. Ruefle. Gilbert— to name but a small, small fraction of them.
Indeed it is difficult to find a poet who has not, like the wise men, felt compelled to follow a distant star to bring their humble gift to the humble manger, despite being unsure of what they would find there.
There is so much more to say. But let’s just say for now the meeting of Christmas and Poetry is a match made in heaven.
I HAVE LIGHTED THE CANDLES, MARY
I have lighted the candles, Mary …
How softly breathes your little Son
My wife has spread the table
With with our best cloth. There are apples,
Bright as red clocks, upon the mantel.
The snow is a weary face at the window.
How sweetly does He sleep
“Into this bitter world, O Terrible Huntsman!”
I say, and she takes my hand — “Hush,
You will wake Him.”
The taste of tears is on her mouth
When I kiss her. I take an apple
And hold it tightly in my fist;
The cold, swollen face of war leans in the window.
They are blowing out the candles, Mary …
The world is a thing gone mad tonight.
O hold Him tenderly, dear Mother,
For His is a kingdom in the hearts of men.