New Poem for Christmas

No, it’s not the Christmas season yet, but a girl can dream, right? I’ve been doing my best not to pull the Christmas music out, to wait a few more weeks for the end of Thanksgiving, but I LOVE Christmas. I love Advent. I love the idea waiting and contemplating and making room for Christ in the same way Mary did during her pregnancy.

And I love twinkle lights and evergreen and spiced cider and Mariah Carey in a Santa suit. I can’t help myself…

So, since I have proven lately that it takes me two months (not one) to memorize a poem and since I would love to have a poem in my head for the Christmas season, we’re going to begin our Advent poem this week.

Over the past few weeks, after a request for help in my Advent contemplation (I’ve been working on some poems for the season), I’ve had wonderful friends sending me their thoughts on Mary, the season of waiting, and the pieces of art that have moved them during the process of preparing for Christmas.

One of the joys of receiving these things from friends is that I have been introduced to poems about the birth of Christ that I may never have found otherwise. I’ve studied WH Auden’s “For the Time Being; A Christmas Oratorio” (here is a portion of the poem), George Herbert’s “Christmas,” John Donne’s “La Corona” (so good), the lyrics of Handel’s Messiah, and two beautiful poems by our beloved Jeanne Murray Walker (“Silent Night” and “Connections” both found in her newest book, New Tracks, Night Falling). But my favorite discovery has been a poem called “Mary’s Song,” written by Luci Shaw.

There is much for me to say about this poem. It has been a sort of magnet that has allowed me to focus the poems I’m working on. It contains the mystery of the Incarnation and the power of God’s work of reconciliation in the same small package. It is beautiful and challenging and full of images that stir me.

So, I’m super excited to get to work on this one and I really hope you’ll join me. Write it on your mirror or hand or tape it to your kid’s back and let’s do this.

Mary’s Song by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest…
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by dove’s voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

  • http://www.atimetodance-amanda.blogspot.com Amanda

    That. Is. Beautiful. Thanks, Elaine.

  • haley

    love love love. luci shaw is my FAVORITE – the first book of poems i ever bought was her advent collection, which contained this very piece. needless to say i am beyond excited to see where you go with the poems YOU are writing! :)


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