Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas-yet-to-be: a Christmas Card


Illustration: pencil sketch by R
for Christ Church Cooperstown
Christmas Eve program
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There are many lovely Christmas poems and hymn lyrics--a form with many notable American practitioners--but the most beautiful carol by a living writer is by Richard Wilbur, who knows how to be simple and knows how to be ravishing. May he keep writing lovely poems in good health past the century-mark!
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Dana Gioia says of Wilbur, "It has been Wilbur’s ironic achievement to excel at precisely those literary forms that many contemporary critics undervalue–metrical poetry, verse translation, comic verse, song lyrics, and perhaps foremost among these unfashionable but extraordinary accomplishments, religious poetry." It is a great good luck that we as readers do not have to be governed by the times, the trends, the politically correct, and the critics but can rejoice in loveliness wherever and however it is found.


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A CHRISTMAS HYMN
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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.

9 comments:

  1. beautiful sketch, I love the face especially.

    I was up sleepless at 2 am this morning and thought about you.

    hope you are having a great season and watching lots of cheesy holiday movies with the fam

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  2. It is lovely, Marly! That girl of yours has a lot of talent. But I am not surprised about that.
    I love Richard Wilbur's work. I never knew that poem though. It's funny that I have been so far fruitlessly toiling away at a poem in a similar form about Katrina.

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  3. Hi Miss Susanna,

    I've been on the run... yesterday picking up my eldest in Albany. Today is early dismissal for snow, snow, snow. They're promising ten inches, "more in the higher elevations." Finally slapped a wreath on the door yesterday evening. Much frenetic Christmas activity is going on in th ehouse--practicing for solos, marching off to choir, rehearsing for a nativity at the Farmer's Museum, etc.

    Robbi,

    Glad you liked it. I got heaps of notes from people when I used it as an e-card.

    Hope the toil proves fruitful!

    Yes, he's awfully good. I just go for the unabashed love of beauty in image and sound and for the great derailed-by-us-in-our-time virtues of goodness and truth.

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  4. Hey there, bet you thought I'd gone off forever. Many things happened, but I'm back and I love, love, love the sketch.

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  5. Donna,

    Thanks--I'm glad you have manifested yourself once more. Merry Christmas!

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  6. Richard Wilbur sent me this poem in the form of a Christmas card. And if I'm not mistaken, it was before his beloved Charlee died. I have it in a scrapbook on the same shelf as Marly's RAVEN.. book. The drawing / sketch is a beautiful fit. As always, Marly is right on the Mark with the true-meaning of Christmas... God bless us everyone!

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  7. Happy New Year! What was on the menu for your feast this year? Your Dear Hubby (DH) is quite a cook as is Susanna's. Let us know the details!

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  8. "Rabbit rabbit!"

    Hello, you energetic greeters--

    And a happy new year full of marvels and work achieved to you both--I will post the menu later. Tumbled into bed at 3:00 a.m. and have much to do at the moment. More soon.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.