Christmas

by Charles Williams

“Let us go a journey,”
Quoth my soul to my mind,
“Past the plains of darkness
Is a house to find
Where for my thirsting
I shall have my fill,
And from my torment
I shall be still.”

“Let us go a journey,”
Quoth my mind to my heart,
“Past the hills of questing,
By our ghostly art,
We shall see the high worlds,
Holy and clear,
Moving in their order
Without hate or fear.”

“Let us go a journey,”
Quoth my heart to my soul,
“I shall never thrive
On the world’s dole.
Past the streams of cleansing
Shall a house be found
Where is peace and healing
For my aching wound.”

By the streams of cleansing,
By the hills of quest,
By the plains of darkness,
They came to their rest.
As the kings of Asia,
They went to a far land;
As the early shepherds,
They found it close at hand.

When they saw Saint Joseph
By their ghostly art,
“Forget not thy clients,
Brother,” quoth my heart.
When they saw Our Lady
In her place assigned,
“Forget not thy clients,
Mother,” quoth my mind.

But my soul hurrying
Could not speak for tears,
When she saw her own Child,
Lost so many years.
Down she knelt, up she ran
To the Babe restored:
“O my Joy,” she sighed to it,
She wept, “O my Lord!”

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2 Responses to Christmas

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thank you for this!

    From the Bi-Monthly papers of S. Silas Church (Nov – Dec 1924 page 17) – among other poems of the Christian year (as linked from the Charles Williams Society homepage) – which I should reread! This one seems to ‘ring bells’ with imagery of the novels and later Arthurian poetry to come, which I did not recall… stanza two with The Place of the Lion (and ‘The Vision of the Empire’), and stanza six with The Greater Trumps. And stanza 3 with his development of the image of the Wounded King, Pelles, through all the Arthurian poetry. His collections Poems of Conformity (1917) and Divorce (1920), both scanned in the Internet Archive, have more Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany poems – and the later plays Seed of Adam and The House by the Stable (among others) are transcribed at fadedpage.com, but I do not immediately find Windows of Night online in any form…

    Of such earIy ‘Christmastide’ poems, I somehow most vividly remember the one (in Poems of Conformity) ending its depiction of fear and futility with:

    King Herod was a wiser king
    Than all our English lords
    They bring Acts of Parliament,
    But he sent swords.

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    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Looking into the history of the expression ‘God rest ye merry’, I just encountered two politically satirical carol parodies which have some resonance with that Herod poem, around a hundred years apart:

      https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/Hone/a_political_christmas_carol.htm

      And one by G.K. Chesterton:

      God rest you merry gentlemen,
      Let nothing you dismay;
      The Herald Angels cannot sing,
      The cops arrest them on the wing,
      And warn them of the docketing
      Of anything they say.

      God rest you merry gentlemen,
      May nothing you dismay:
      On your reposeful cities lie
      Deep silence, broken only by
      The motor-horn’s melodious cry,
      The hooter’s happy bray.

      So, when the song of children ceased,
      And Herod was obeyed,
      In his high hall Corinthian
      With purple and with peacock fan,
      Rested that merry gentleman;
      And nothing him dismayed.

      “This was Chesterton’s response to a statement issued by the Chief Constable declaring that carol singing in the streets by children is illegal, and morally and physically injurious. He appealed to the public to discourage the practice. This poem/carol was published in Chesterton’s The Ballad of St. Barbara: And Other Verses (1922), pp. 54-55, and is widely reproduced.”:

      https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/god_rest_you_merry_notes.htm

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