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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas card

from "The Snow Queen" in The Snow Queen
and Other stories--
an oversize Golden Book
with illustrations by Adrienne Segur

I pored over my copy of The Snow Queen and Other Stories when I was a small child as blonde and blue-eyed as an Adrienne Segur character. Later little gold crowns ringed my pupils and my eyes turned green. My hair would darken. Back then I had a deep love for Segur's illustration that I now find was not uncommon among women writers around my age. Many of us had one (or two--the lucky ones!) of the big story collections Segur illustrated for Golden Books. I bought the second one some years ago and wished that I could send it through time to the child-me. Instead, I shall send you a little card from child-me and current-me: Young Crone-me.

Segur, "The Little Lamb"

The Year of the Blue Christmas Tree
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Here’s Snow Day in the Writing Room.

And a childhood favorite at Christmas.

Here’s a poem for Christmas Day.


Maybe a little William Blake (1757-1827) to accompany that illustration?

The Lamb 

Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life & bid thee feed. 
By the stream & o'er the mead; 
Gave thee clothing of delight, 
Softest clothing wooly bright; 
Gave thee such a tender voice, 
Making all the vales rejoice! 
         Little Lamb who made thee 
         Dost thou know who made thee 

         Little Lamb I'll tell thee, 
         Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name, 
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek & he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child & thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee. 
         Little Lamb God bless thee.

One of my favorite books as a child. Segur illustrations.
Segur, "Melito and his Soul"
Segur illustration, "La Rose de Noël"

The New-year's Gift

Let others look for pearl and gold,
Tissues, or tabbies manifold:
One only lock of that sweet hay
Whereon the blessed Baby lay,
Or one poor swaddling-clout, shall be
The richest New-year's gift to me.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Segur. I'm not sure what this one is from...
Segur, for "The Legend of the Rossignol"
Segur detail, "The Little Girl Made of Snow"

Christmas-Eve, Another Ceremony

Come guard this night the Christmas-Pie,
That the thief, though ne'er so sly,
With his flesh-hooks, don't come nigh
                  To catch it

From him, who all alone sits there,
Having his eyes still in his ear,
And a deal of nightly fear
                  To watch it.

Three kind Segurian dwarves assisting a poor child
shoved out in the snow by her
cruel stepmother!


  1. What a Christmas cornucopia!

    We hosted the Christmas-holiday-snowman-season-whatever party for my sweetheart's colleagues here at the house tonight. It's rather funny to have "put away mousetraps" on the to-do list beforehand.

    I've tried and failed to get in the habit of writing a Christmas poem every year...but I just pulled out a shaggy draft from 2013, and next week I may finish it, even if it stinks.

    Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous, prolific 2018!

    1. That's like you--I mean, you are into the whole idea of "calendar." Do you have a little collection of them? I think it would be interesting to see the collection and comments!

      "Put away mousetraps" could be in The Beallsville Calendar.

      Have much merriness when Christmas comes--you and that sweetheart! And a meaningful (peaceful and prolific sounds so good) year ahead. A fresh calendar to you!

  2. I really have difficulty recalling Christmas "as a small child". Between ages 5 and 10 WW2 was raging and even now the sound of an air-raid warning siren - on a TV documentary, say - causes me to shudder. Street-lights were turned off, windows were sealed with black-out curtain, there was a good deal of darkness both abroad and within the spirit. But something odd did happen and I conclude it must have been during the war.

    Without warning, seemingly inappropriately, I was given Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. I didn't read it because I had no experience of printed verse, only an oral tradition whereby one becomes aware of rumty-tum rhythms. Sixty years later, while blogging, I was given Peter Porter's Collected Poetry. In both instances my reaction was exactly the same: an unknowing state of mind that nevertheless held on to the fact that someone - it had to be an adult both times - had imagined me to be a suitable recipient of poetry. The difference being I have read the Porter, did so last night. He writes a lot about music.

    A small, almost moribund, worm chews at me suggesting that Little Lamb occurs in the Stevenson collection.

    From the chaotic untended attic that is my personal history I offer my wishes that the coming festival brings forth both benign revelation and comfort to you and yours.

    1. Is revelation benign? Flannery O'Connor would say no!

      "Little Lamb" does have a sweetness that no doubt is too sweet for some--fits quite well into the sequence, though, and fits with Segur, who is also often sweet. "A Child's Garden of Verses" is one of the books I owned, and I read ragged every book I owned. I had poetry anthologies, too, and I loved Carroll's poems in the Alice books.

      Words. Magic. I just wept for someone I do not know because her eulogy was so beautiful. Who knows, you might have lived a different life had you read Stevenson! I still love him and reread "Kidnapped" a year or so ago.

  3. I have maybe eight Christmas poems so far: a couple from the gargoyle book, two or three unpublished poems, and the "December" entry from the calendar poem. I have one more nearly done and a second one for this year knocking around conceptually in my mind, and a half-finished translation of an early medieval poem about winter. I've long had this idea that someday, once I have enough of them, I can turn them into a little book and give it away, or perhaps send copies of the book in lieu of the Christmas cards I've neglected for two or three years. I do write more poetry when I have an overall theme to work with, so we shall see.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! Be safe if you're traveling; stay warm if you're stayin' home!

    1. So I've read almost half! Yes, that would make a charming little book. I gave Phoenicia's "Annunciation" anthology to about a dozen people, who seemed to like it. An anthology on a theme can be enticing. And yes, a marvelous Christmas card...

      I'm home, cleaning and decking and wishing for merry flames in the fireplace! Cooperstown had snow and ice yesterday, so we're messy outside. My husband is scraping away at the walk. Merry Christmas to you and the sweetheart. Safe travels if you travel, yes.


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.