Every year I do a series of Xmas entries on the blog, helped and encouraged by suggestions and recommendations from my lovely readers. You can see some of last year’s pictures in this entry, and find (endless!) more Xmas books via the tags at the bottom of the page.
The Christmas Tree by Cecil Day Lewis
Put out the lights now!
Look at the Tree, the rough tree dazzled
In oriole plumes of flame,
Tinselled with twinkling frost fire, tasselled
With stars and moons - the same
That yesterday hid in the spinney and had no fame
Till we put out the lights now.
Hard are the nights now:
The fields at moonrise turn to agate,
Shadows are cold as jet;
In dyke and furrow, in copse and faggot
The frost's tooth is set;
And stars are the sparks whirled out by the north wind's fret
On the flinty nights now.
So feast your eyes now
On mimic star and moon-cold bauble;
Worlds may wither unseen,
But the Christmas Tree is a tree of fable,
A phoenix in evergreen,
And the world cannot change or chill what its mysteries mean
To your hearts and eyes now.
The vision dies now
Candle by candle: the tree that embraced it
Returns to its own kind,
To be earthed again and weather as best it
May the frost and the wind.
Children, it too had its hour – you will not mind
If it lives or dies now.
commentary: You’d think there’d be a lot of poems about Christmas and Christmas trees, but actually there aren’t. I really like this one, spelling out the ways and truth of the decorative trees.
C Day Lewis is more often featured on the blog for the detective stories he wrote under the name Nicholas Blake - there’s a Christmas-y one coming shortly. He was also the lover of blog favourite Rosamond Lehmann (and the father of the actor Daniel Day Lewis).
But he was a fine poet, who was a poet laureate. He seems well on his way to being forgotten, which is a shame: he wrote good honest poems which speak to the reader. One of his best is Walking Away, about your children growing up, and I also very much like The Album.
The picture shows part of The Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Tayler, from the Athenaeum website.