Haunting Music of the Other World

Kate Greenaway, "Christmas"

Kate Greenaway, “Christmas”

Spiritual Sunday

This will be the first Christmas at which I will have grandchildren and get to relive those Christmases when my sons were small. Here’s a poem that helps explain why children are so central to the Christmas experience.  Anne Porter, who began publishing poetry when she was in her eighties, associates certain phrases she finds in Christmas carols–“the haunting music of the other world– with “the fresh truth of children” with their  “birdlike voices” and “piercing questions.”

Noel

Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they’re cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows 

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet’s message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies

Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

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  • http://yvettecandraw.blogspot.com/ Yvette

    Thank you for this, Robin. A wonderful poem especially thoughtful this year after the dreadful events of the past few weeks.

    I wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and a Great New Year.

  • Sue

    I love how wonder sneaks in through the ordinary. Beautiful poem.


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