Christmas (John Betjeman)

Aan alle bezoekers en mede-bloggers een Prettig Kerstfeest!


Aanbidding der herders door Sebastiano Conca, 1720



The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

John Betjeman (28 augustus 1906 – 19 mei 1984)
Londen, Somerset House in de kersttijd. John Betjeman werd geboren in Londen.


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 26e december ook mijn drie vorige blogs van vandaag.

David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier

De Amerikaanse schrijver David Sedaris werd geboren in Binghamton, New York, op 26 december 1956. Zie ook alle tags voor David Sedaris op dit blog.

Uit:When You Are Engulfed in Flames

“Carry my groceries upstairs.’ She sounded like a man, or, rather, a hit man, her voice coarse and low, like heavy footsteps on gravel.
‘Now?’ Hugh asked.
She said, ‘What? You got something better to do?’
I first saw the apartment a few days later. Hugh was in the living room taking down the panelling while I sat on a paint bucket and tried to come to terms with my disappointment. For starters, there was the kitchen floor. The tiles there were brown and tan and ochre, the colours seemingly crocheted as they would be on an afghan. Then there was the size. I was wondering how two people could possibly live in such a tight space, when there was a knock at the unlocked door, and this woman I didn’t know stepped uninvited onto the horrible tiles. Her hair was dyed the colour of a new penny, and she wore it pulled back into a thumb-sized ponytail. This put the focus on her taped-up glasses, and on her lower jaw, which stuck out slightly, like a drawer that hadn’t quite been closed. ‘Can I help you?’ I asked, and her hand went to a whistle that hung from a string around her neck.
‘Mess with me, and I’ll stick my foot so far up your ass I’ll lose my shoe.’
Someone says this, and you naturally look down, or at least I do. The woman’s feet were tiny, no longer than hot-dog buns. She had on puffy sneakers, cheap ones made of air and some sort of plastic, and, considering them, I frowned.
‘They might be small, but they’ll still do the job, don’t you worry,’ she said.
Right about then, Hugh stepped out of the living room with a scrap of panelling in his hand. ‘Have you met Helen?’ he asked.
The woman unfurled a few thick fingers, the way you might when working an equation: 2 young men + 1 bedroom – ugly panelling = fags. ‘Yeah, we met.’ Her voice was heavy with disdain. ‘We met, all right.’
Throughout the seven years Hugh and I lived on Thompson Street, our lives followed a simple pattern. He would get up early and leave the house no later than eight. I was working for a house-cleaning company, and though my schedule varied from day to day, I usually didn’t start until 10. My only real constant was Helen, who would watch Hugh leave the building, and then cross the hall to lean on our doorbell. I would wake up, and just as I was belting my robe, the ringing would be replaced by a pounding, frantic and relentless, the way you might rail against a coffin lid if you’d accidentally been buried alive.”

David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)

Doorgaan met het lezen van “David Sedaris, Elizabeth Kostova, Henry Miller, Rainer Malkowski, Mani Beckmann, Alejo Carpentier”

Jean Toomer, Hans Brinkmann, Willy Corsari, Alfred Huggenberger, René Bazin, Julien Benda

De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Jean Toomer werd geboren op 26 december 1894 in Washington, D.C. Zie ook alle tags voor Jean Toomer op dit blog.

Banking Coal

Whoever it was who brought the first wood and coal
To start the Fire, did his part well;
Not all wood takes to fire from a match,
Nor coal from wood before it’s burned to charcoal.
The wood and coal in question caught a flame
And flared up beautifully, touching the air
That takes a flame from anything.

Somehow the fire was furnaced,
And then the time was ripe for some to say,
“Right banking of the furnace saves the coal.”
I’ve seen them set to work, each in his way,
Though all with shovels and with ashes,
Never resting till the fire seemed most dead;
Whereupon they’d crawl in hooded night-caps
Contentedly to bed. Sometimes the fire left alone
Would die, but like as not spiced tongues
Remaining by the hardest on till day would flicker up,
Never strong, to anyone who cared to rake for them.
But roaring fires never have been made that way.
I’d like to tell those folks that one grand flare
Transferred to memory tissues of the air
Is worth a like, or, for dull minds that turn in gold,
All money ever saved by banking coal.

Jean Toomer (26 december 1894 – 30 maart 1967)
Rond 1920

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Jean Toomer, Hans Brinkmann, Willy Corsari, Alfred Huggenberger, René Bazin, Julien Benda”

Thomas Gray Jean Galtier-Boissière, Ernst Moritz Arndt, Johann Gaudenz von Salis-Seewis, E. D. E. N. Southworth, Jean-François de Saint-Lambert

De Engelse dichter en geleerde Thomas Gray werd geboren op 26 december 1716 in Londen. Zie ook alle tags voor Thomas Gray op dit blog.

The Bard

Cold is Cadwallo’s tongue,
That hush’d the stormy main:
Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
Mountains, ye mourn in vain
Modred, whose magic song
Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-top’d head.
On dreary Arvon’sÊ shore they lie,
Smear’d with gore, and ghastly pale:
Far, far aloof th’ affrighted ravens sail;
The famish’d Eagle screams, and passes by.
Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
Dear, as the light that visits these sad eyes,
Dear, as the ruddy drops that warm my heart,
Ye died amidst your country’s cries–
No more I weep. They do not sleep.
On yonder cliffs, a griesly band,
I see them sit, they linger yet,
Avengers of their native land:
With me in dreadful harmony they join,
And weave with bloody hands, the tissue of thy line.’

Thomas Gray (26 december 1716 – 30 juli 1771)
Portret door John Giles Eccardt, 1747-1748


Doorgaan met het lezen van “Thomas Gray Jean Galtier-Boissière, Ernst Moritz Arndt, Johann Gaudenz von Salis-Seewis, E. D. E. N. Southworth, Jean-François de Saint-Lambert”