Friday, December 29, 2006

2 Poems for the Octave of Christmas

The Diocese of Washington's blog, daily episcopalian is offering several poems this week, in celebration of the Octave of Christmas - the feast is not over at the evening of December 25, but is celebrated for a whole week.

One poem is by my most favourite poet, Denise Levertov. I was introduced to Levertov by my English teacher at The Mountain School, Roberta Worrick - an author in her own right, writing about Africa as Maria Thomas; she died in a tragic airplane accident in Ethiopia in 1989 with Congressman Mickey Leland, who represented my Houston district. I still have my senior high school English project paper on Levertov!

An announcement -- Announcement is a very different word than annunciation. The connotations of the first are workaday, bureaucratic, while the connotations of the second are grand, even--in the poem excerpted below--sacred. Yet Denise Levertov wants us to undersand that the distinction obscures rather than illuminates. God is forever annunciating His presence, offering to be born in each of our lives. We may not get the angel, but we get the invitation.

from Annunciation
by Densire Levertov

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often
those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

The full poem can be read here.

Another poem is by Howard Thurman, whom I've never read until today. But I want to read more of him!

The Work of Christmas
by Howard Thurman

"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart."
— The Mood of Christmas, 23

An Excerpt from Howard Thurman: Essential Writings


  1. Googled "Howard Thurman Christmas poem", and this was the first page that came up. Enjoyed both poems you had up, and the lovely scandal quote at the top of your page. Merry Christmas from California!

  2. Anonymous, thanks for the comment. Next time, as a courtesy, to establish an ethic of transparency, please use a name, any name, so that one 'Anonymous' is not confused with another. Cheers! Merry Christmastide to you!


Thanks for visiting.

Please be considerate... no off-topic, racist, sexist or homophobic comments.

Comment moderation is on.

No anonymous comments will be accepted..