"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days"

We are reaching the time of year, the Winter Solstice, when we can be of good cheer, because soon, the days will be lengthening and we can imagine the first shoots of spring. But for now, pull up your favourite chair, stick another log on the fire and enjoy your cakes and ale. Happy Christmas! 

All the poems and pictures here are chosen because they resonate with me in some way: The Larsson above because I feel so at one with the Scandinavian landscape, The Clare and the Tennyson because both poets are from my neck o' the woods, and the words "Ring out a slowly dying cause" together with the picture of the Houses of Parliament, are, well, just my feeble joke. The Donne evokes what is for me that magical time of Solstice:

Donne in sombre mood:

TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world's whole sap is sunk

But there is cheer, from Mr Herrick:

"COME, bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas log to the firing ;
While my good dame, she
Bids ye all be free ;
And drink to your heart's desiring"

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"
-  Charles Dickens

"While snow the window-panes bedim,
The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o'er the pitcher's rim,
The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
Sits there, its pleasures to impart,
And children, 'tween their parent's knees,
Sing scraps of carols o'er by heart." 
-   John Clare, December

"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in."
-   Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ring Out, Wild Bells

Weasel is taking a break for the holiday.

Thank you for visiting and I wish all those who have dropped by a happy and safe Christmas for you and yours.


denverthen said...

Brilliant. And merry Christmas to you, WW.

For those that might not have come into contact with it, for whatever reason, here's Tennyson's take on our obsession with "New Years" (if you'll allow).


Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take 'em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth'd his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho' his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho' his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I've half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o'er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

...Happy New Year, then. May it bring more joy to you - and luck - than the one we'll once again so casually discard at midnight on the 31st did.

Ayrdale said...

From the Antipodes Mr.W. a wish that your blogging continues in 2010 and the annoyances and worries of life are quietened.

I enjoyed that last post very much.

Edwin Moore said...

Merry Xmas to you and yours Weasley

The Oxen (Thomas hardy)

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen.
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few believe
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder comb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.