Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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Christmas

Ten poems for the holiday.

The Christ-Child

The lips of the Christ-child are like to twin leaves;
   They let roses fall when He smiles tenderly.
The tears of the Christ-child are pearls when he grieves;
   The eyes of the Christ-child are deep as the sea.
Like pomegranate grains are the dimples He hath,
And clustering lilies spring up in His path.

Saint Gregory of Narek (951-1011)
tr. from Armenian by Alice Stone Blackwell

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The Nativity of Christ

Today from the Aurora's bosom
A pink has fallen—a crimson blossom—
And oh, how glorious rests the hay
On which the fallen blossom lay!
When silence gently had unfurled
Her mantle over all below,
And crowned with winter's frost and snow,
Night swayed the sceptre of the world,
Amid the gloom descending slow,
Upon the monarch's frozen bosom
A pink has fallen,—a crimson blossom.

The only flower the Virgin bore
(Aurora fair) within her breast,
She gave to earth, yet still possessed
Her virgin blossom as before;
That hay that colored drop caressed,—
Received upon its faithful bosom
That single flower,—a crimson blossom.
The manger, unto which 'twas given,
Even amid wintry snows and cold,
Within its fostering arms to fold
The blushing flower that fell from heaven,
Was as a canopy of gold,—
A downy couch,—where on its bosom
That flower had fallen,—that crimson blossom.

Luis De Argote y Gongora (1561-1627)
tr. from Spanish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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A Child My Choice

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love are His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due,
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young yet wise, though small yet strong; though man yet God He is;
As wise He knows, as strong He can, as God He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!

St. Robert Southwell, S.J. (1562-1595)

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The Night of Marvels

In such a marvellous night, so fair
   And full of wonder strange and new,
Ye shepherds of the vale, declare
   Who saw the greatest wonder? Who?

First. I saw the trembling fire look wan.
Second. I saw the sun shed tears of blood.
Third. I saw a God become a man.
Fourth. I saw a man become a God.

O wondrous marvels! at the thought,
   The bosom's awe and reverence move,
But who such prodigies has wrought?
   What gave such wonders birth? 'Twas love!

What called from heaven that flame divine,
   Which streams in glory from above;
And bade it o'er earth's bosom shine,
   And bless us with its brightness? Love!

Who bade the glorious sun arrest
   His course, and o'er heaven's concave move
In tears,—the saddest, loneliest
   Of the celestial orbs? 'Twas love!

Who raised the human race so high,
   Even to the starry seats above,
That for our mortal progeny,
   A man became a God? 'Twas love!

Who humbled from the seats of light
   Their Lord, all human woes to prove;
Led the great source of day—to night;
   And made of God a man? 'Twas love!

Yes, love has wrought, and love alone,
   The victories all,—beneath,—above,—
And earth and heaven shall shout as one,
   The all-triumphant song of love.

The song through all heaven's arches ran,
   And told the wondrous tales aloud,—
The trembling fire that looked so wan,
   The weeping sun behind the cloud.
A God—a God! becomes a man!
   A mortal man becomes a God!

Sister Violante do Ceo (1601-1693)
tr. from Portuguese by John Bowring

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Christmas Carol

The land grew bright in a single flower—
   One great Carnation rare—
Against whose bloom no frost had power
   To dim its glowing lair.

Oh, was there ever such another
   So lovely for our lips to kiss,—
To shine where earthly shadows smother,—
   A bud of Heaven, like This?

The sun behind the mists is clouded;
   Haste, shepherds, there to gaze!
See Fire itself in ice beshrouded,
   And Ice in joy ablaze!

Sister Francisca Josefa del Castillo (1691-1743)
tr. from Spanish by Thomas Walsh

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Stille Nacht

Silent Night! Holy Night!
Slumber all; in delight
Watch the two saintly guardians there
Over the Child in His ringletted hair:
"Sleep in heavenly Peace!
Sleep in heavenly Peace!"

Silent Night! Holy Night!
Shepherds first learnt its might
From the Angels with Glorias clear
Singing round them from far and near:
"Christ the Saviour is here!
Christ the Saviour is here!"

Silent Night! Holy Night!
God's own Son,—oh, how bright
Shines the love from Thine infinite Face;
While the hour strikes forth for Thy grace—
Christ who is born unto us!
Christ who is born unto us!

Father Josef Mohr (1792-1848)
tr. from German by Thomas Walsh

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The Light of Bethlehem

'Tis Christmas Night! the snow
   A flock unnumbered lies;
The old Judean stars aglow
   Keep watch within the skies.

An icy stillness holds
   The pulses of the night;
A deeper mystery enfolds
   The wondering Hosts of Light.

Till lo, with reverence pale
   That dims each diadem,
The lordliest, earthward bending, hail
   The Light of Bethlehem!

Father John Banister Tabb (1845-1909)

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The Cherub-Folk

In highest Heaven, at Mary's knee,
   The Cherubs sit with folded wings,
And beg her by St. Charity
   To tell them tales of human things.

They throw their harps down on the floor,
   And all their heavenly playthings leave,
And clamor to be told once more
   The faerie tale of faulty Eve.

Up into Mary's lap they climb
   To hear how on a place called Earth
Once, in a wondrous thing called Time,
   The Uncreated One had birth.

And she to whom a Son was given,
   Plays there her Mother's part to them
And tells the Cherub-folk in heaven
   The wonder tale of Bethlehem.

Enid Dinnis (1873-1942)

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Mary's Baby

Joseph, mild and noble, bent above the straw:
A pale girl, a frail girl, suffering, he saw;
"O my Love, my Mary, my bride, I pity thee!"
"Nay, Dear," said Mary, "All is well with me!"
   "Baby, my Baby, O my Babe," she sang.
Suddenly the golden night all with music rang.

Angels leading shepherds, shepherds leading sheep:
The silence of worship broke the mother's sleep.
All the meek and lowly of the world were there;
Smiling she showed them that her Child was fair.
   "Baby, my Baby," kissing Him she said.
Suddenly a flaming star through the heavens sped.

Three old men and weary knelt them side by side,
The world's wealth forswearing, majesty and pride;
Worldly might and wisdom before the Babe bent low:
Weeping, maid Mary said, "I love Him so!"
   "Baby, my Baby," and the Baby slept.
Suddenly on Calvary all the olives wept.

Shaemas O'Sheel (1886-1954)

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Christmas 1930

How can they honor Him, the humble lad
Whose feet struck paths of beauty through the earth,
With all the drunken revelry, the mad
Barter of goods that marks His day of birth?
How can they honor Him with flame and din,
Whose soul was peaceful as the moon-swept sea,
Whose thoughts were sombre with the world's great sin
Even while He trod the hill to Calvary?

I think if Jesus should return and see
This hollow blasphemy, this day of horror,
The heart that languished in Gethsamane
Would know again as great and deep a sorrow,
And He who charmed the troubled waves to sleep
With deathless words, would kneel again and weep.

Anderson M. Scruggs

The Catholic Anthology: The World's Great Catholic Poetry (1940), ed. Thomas Walsh and George N. Shuster, pp. 45, 171f, 174f, 193f, 220, 241, 299, 385, 423f, 508f.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Mon. 12/24/07 12:57:30 PM
Categorized as Literary & Religious.

   
         
         

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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”