Christmas Poems

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Christmas Bells

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

A Dream of Christmas

I had kindled the hearth to warm my toes and started some Hickory brew
To heat up my insides as well, as another December day was through.
And breathing in that wholesome scent, I closed my worn eyes tight
Resolved that I might dream a bit that cold and snowy night.

In the almost formless shadows, the quiet cabin came alive.
Whispering messengers delivered me gifts as the clock struck Ten-and-Five:
The crackle of the fire, the creaking of the floor,
The childlike wintry whining of the wind beneath the door.

Like an echo ever-coming, sounds bounced from every cob:
From the eaves to the boards to my ivory doorknob.
And then in fright and worry I spun around in place
And there before my ornate mantle crept the shadow of a face.

The shadow bore a beard that stretched almost from sight.
It flickered and it quivered in the muted candlelight.
It seemed to hold immense respect for whom it reflect
And in that moment it was enough just to stay circumspect.

But as my nerves were calming enough to clearly think
The most surprising, brilliant light forced my eyes to blink.
There when I reopened them in beauty that made me gape
Were glistening elven sprites about and Santa donned in velvet cape.

Lo! It was the grandest thing to watch that cheerful pack
Race to lace the finest ruby ribbons round my tree and back.
From Santa’s sleeves red ringing bells shot out like from a gun
Followed by green garlands and globes that filled the room as he spun.

Betwixt this glorious tumult open flew my shutter doors,
A gusty wind freezing cold the candles to their cores.
Gone was all illumination, in black the chamber stood.
I heard but recapitulation of the horn owl in the wood.

Then again the hearth flames livened allowing me to see –
No Christmas bells rang anywhere; no ribbons wrapped my tree.
My visit from Santa Claus had been but reverie.
So with a smile I lay me down to again with Santa be.

The Angel Lady
by Bob Lazzar-Atwood

She was called the Angel Lady for the ornaments she made,
She carved them out of scraps of fir and pine,
They echoed a belief she held from which she never strayed,
That angels are around us all the time.
She first received her calling with a heart consumed by grief,
The year her loving husband passed away,
She found that carving offered her a measure of relief
And it brought a sense of purpose to her day.
And then when Christmas came with all the memories it brings,
And clouds of sadness fell upon her heart,
She carved her husband’s likeness with a pair of angel wings,
And magically the clouds began to part.
She fixed it with a piece of string and hung it on the tree,
He always loved the smell of fresh cut fir,
And when she sat beside the tree to carve a bit or read,
She felt his loving presence close to her.
When others saw the ornament, her neighbors and her friends,
They marveled at how lifelike it appeared,
They begged her to consider carving ornaments for them
Of loved ones they had lost throughout the years.
And so her mission started and her reputation spread,
As orders came from cities far and wide,
From people who were seeking some remembrance of their dead,
And comfort from the pain they felt inside.
The children were the hardest and it often made her weep,
To carve their childish features in the pine,
But late at night a voice would reassure her in her sleep
That angels were around them all the time.
And one day she received a special letter in her box
From a boy whose family dog had passed away,
She thought about it briefly and then asked herself “why not?”
And she started carving pets that very day.
For twenty years she carved until her hands were old and tired
And all her youthful energy was gone,
But her belief in angels always made her feel inspired
And helped her find the strength to carry on.
And then one Christmas day a neighbor found her in her chair,
Her heart no longer sounding its commands,
With shavings all around her, in her clothing and her hair,
Her carving blade still nestled in her hand.
And as the medics came and slowly wheeled her to the door,
Her grieving friends were too distraught to see,
The photograph that rested right beside her on the floor
Or the newest little angel on the tree.
It hung there by her husbands like two birds upon a limb,
A woman carved in wood still wet with stain,
Her head was turned and she was smiling lovingly at him,
And he was looking back at her the same.
Like all the other angels she had carved throughout her days,
The image was so real it chilled the spine,
And engraved upon the bottom was this very simple phrase,
“Angels are around us all the time,”

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