Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Christmas Carol by Christina Rossetti

I have already posted several poems by Christina Rossetti since I started participating in the Poetry Project hosted by Lu at Regular Rumination and Kelly at The Written World in July.  I didn't realize how big of an impact her poetry had on me until I would look at the month's poetic theme, and a poem of hers would immediately pop in my head, like "Goblin Market" did in October, or I would stumble across one of her poems and think I have to post this, like "A Christmas Carol (For My Godchildren)" in December.  I knew January was Christina Rossetti month, and every time I posted one of her poems here, I thought, Maybe I should save this for January, but I knew I would think of something else wonderful to share.  While I was reading up on "A Christmas Carol (For My Godchildren)," I ran across a poem that for my entire life I thought was only a hymn we sang at Christmas time.  I had no idea it was first a poem by Rossetti.  Also entitled "A Christmas Carol" (apparently Rossetti wrote lots of Christmas Carols), this poem has been turned into a hymn by Gustav Holst known by its first line "In the Bleak Midwinter."  It is a beautiful, melodic piece.  I still think it is appropriate to share in January due to its winter theme.  I'm sure I'll find another Rossetti gem to share before the month is over.  I have also included a link to a video of the poem being sung, so readers can get the full effect.

Happy New Year!

In the Bleak Midwinter sung by Choir of Kings College, Cambridge (that means it's good, y'all)

A Christmas CarolChristina Rossetti

Source: The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), p. 246

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Before 1872

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