The Christmas Tree (Robert W. Service)

Bij de vierde zondag van de Advent


Am stillen Herd door Maximilian Schaefer, 1894


The Christmas Tree

In the dark and damp of the alley cold,
Lay the Christmas tree that hadn’t been sold;
By a shopman dourly thrown outside;
With the ruck and rubble of Christmas-tide;
Trodden deep in the muck and mire,
Unworthy even to feed a fire…
So I stopped and salvaged that tarnished tree,
And thus is the story it told to me:

“My Mother was Queen of the forest glade,
And proudly I prospered in her shade;
For she said to me: ‘When I am dead,
You will be monarch in my stead,
And reign, as I, for a hundred years,
A tower of triumph amid your peers,
When I crash in storm I will yield you space;
Son, you will worthily take my place.’

“So I grew in grace like a happy child,
In the heart of the forest free and wild;
And the moss and the ferns were all about,
And the craintive mice crept in and out;
And a wood-dove swung on my highest twig,
And a chipmunk chattered: ‘So big! So big!’
And a shy fawn nibbled a tender shoot,
And a rabbit nibbled under my root…
Oh, I was happy in rain and shine
As I thought of the destiny that was mine!
Then a man with an axe came cruising by
And I knew that my fate was to fall and die.

“With a hundred others he packed me tight,
And we drove to a magic city of light,
To an avenue lined with Christmas trees,
And I thought: may be I’ll be one of these,
Tinselled with silver and tricked with gold,
A lovely sight for a child to behold;
A-glitter with lights of every hue,
Ruby and emerald, orange and blue,
And kiddies dancing, with shrieks of glee –
One might fare worse than a Christmas tree.

“So they stood me up with a hundred more
In the blaze of a big department store;
But I thought of the forest dark and still,
And the dew and the snow and the heat and the chill,
And the soft chinook and the summer breeze,
And the dappled deer and the birds and the bees…
I was so homesick I wanted to cry,
But patient I waited for someone to buy.
And some said ‘Too big,’ and some ‘Too small,’
And some passed on saying nothing at all.
Then a little boy cried: Ma, buy that one,’
But she shook her head: ‘Too dear, my son.”
So the evening came, when they closed the store,
And I was left on the littered floor,
A tree unwanted, despised, unsold,
Thrown out at last in the alley cold.”

Then I said: “Don’t sorrow; at least you’ll be
A bright and beautiful New Year’s tree,
All shimmer and glimmer and glow and gleam,
A radiant sight like a fairy dream.
For there is a little child I know,
Who lives in poverty, want and woe;
Who lies abed from morn to night,
And never has known an hour’s delight…”

So I stood the tree at the foot of her bed:
“Santa’s a little late,” I said.
“Poor old chap! Snowbound on the way,
But he’s here at last, so let’s be gay.”
Then she woke from sleep and she saw you there,
And her eyes were love and her lips were prayer.
And her thin little arms were stretched to you
With a yearning joy that they never knew.
She woke from the darkest dark to see
Like a heavenly vision, that Christmas Tree.

Her mother despaired and feared the end,
But from that day she began to mend,
To play, to sing, to laugh with glee…
Bless you, O little Christmas Tree!
You died, but your life was not in vain:
You helped a child to forget her pain,
And let hope live in our hearts again.


Robert W. Service (16 januari 1874 – 11 september 1958)
Preston, Lancashire, de geboorteplaats van Robert W. Service, in de Adventstijd


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 23e december ook mijn drie vorige blogs van vandaag.


John (Lucille Clifton)

Bij de derde zondag van de Advent


Het getuigenis van Johannes de Doper door Annibale Carracci, ca. 1600



somebody coming in blackness
like a star
and the world be a great bush
on his head
and his eyes be fire
in the city
and his mouth be true as time

he be calling the people brother
even in the prison
even in the jail

i’m just only a baptist preacher
somebody bigger than me coming
in blackness like a star


Lucille Clifton (New York, 27 juni 1936)
Adventstijd in New York, de geboorteplaats van Lucille Clifton


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 16e december ook mijn vorige twee blogs van vandaag.


Christbaum (Ada Christen)

Bij de tweede zondag van de Advent


Abendstimmung am Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt door Georg Schöbel, z.j.



Hörst auch du die leisen Stimmen
aus den bunten Kerzlein dringen?
Die vergessenen Gebete
aus den Tannenzweiglein singen?
Hörst auch du das schüchternfrohe,
helle Kinderlachen klingen?
Schaust auch du den stillen Engel
mit den reinen, weißen Schwingen?…
Schaust auch du dich selber wieder
fern und fremd nur wie im Traume?
Grüßt auch dich mit Märchenaugen
deine Kindheit aus dem Baume?…


Ada Christen (6 maart 1839- 19 mei 1901)
Kerstmarkt op de Rathausplatz in Wenen, de geboorteplaats van Ada Christen


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 9e december ook mijn vorige twee blogs van vandaag.


Advent (Marjoleine de Vos )

Bij de 1e zondag van de Advent


Jon McNaughton
Parting the Veil (The Second Coming) door Jon McNaughton, z. j.



Wie wacht weet nooit waarop
want steeds is alles anders.
Je wou rustige grond zijn
klaar voor de zaaier maar
niemand komt. Die stem ben je zelf
je zingt een oud lied van vrede.

Welke vrede. Je buigt het hoofd
knielt eerlijke woorden fietst
naar huis geen engel te zien.
Prijs dan de uren, als niet de jaren
hangt straks in de kerstboom
een bescheiden bazuin.


Marjoleine de Vos (Oosterbeek, 19 april 1957)
De Oude Kerk in Oosterbeek


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 2e december ook mijn vorige blog van vandaag.

Zu Bethlehem, da ruht ein Kind (Annette von Droste-Hülshoff)

Aan alle bezoekers en mede-bloggers een Prettig Kerstfeest!


Aanbidding der herders door Theodoor van Loon, ca. 1620


Zu Bethlehem, da ruht ein Kind

Zu Bethlehem, da ruht ein Kind,
Im Kripplein eng und klein,
Das Kindlein ist ein Gotteskind,
Nennt erd’ und Himmel sein.

Zu Bethlehem, da liegt im Stall,
Bei Ochs und Eselein,
Der Herr, der schuf das Weltenall,
Als Jesukindchen klein.

Von seinem gold’nen Thron herab
Bringt’s Gnad und Herrlichkeit,
Bringt jedem eine gute Gab’,
Die ihm das Herz erfreut.

Der bunte Baum, vom Licht erhellt,
Der freuet uns gar sehr,
Ach, wie so arm die weite Welt,
Wenn’s Jesukind nicht wär’!

Das schenkt uns Licht und Lieb’ und Lust
In froher, heil’ger Nacht.
Das hat, als es nichts mehr gewußt,
Sich selbst uns dargebracht.

Oh, wenn wir einst im Himmel sind,
Den lieben Englein nah,
Dann singen wir dem Jesukind
Das wahre Gloria.


Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (10 januari 1797 – 24 mei 1848)
Burg Hülshoff, de geboorteplaats van Annette von Droste-Hülshoff


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 24e december ook mijn twee vorige blogs van vandaag.


The Cultivation of Christmas Trees (T. S. Eliot)

Bij de vierde zondag van de Advent


The Christmas Tree door Albert Chevallier Tayler, 1911


The Cultivation of Christmas Trees

There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish — which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.

The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,

So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert
Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children
(And here I remember also with gratitude
St. Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):

So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
(By “eightieth” meaning whichever is last)
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.


T. S. Eliot (26 september 1888 – 4 januari 1965)
St. Louis Missouri Arch. T. S. Eliot werd geboren in St. Louis



Zie voor de schrijvers van de 24e december ook mijn twee volgende blogs van vandaag.

Gaudete (Kevin Carey)

Bij de derde zondag van de Advent


Maria Heimsuchung door Carl von Blaas, 1842



In darkening days of penitence,
Before the turning of the years,
We look to make our recompense,
With new resolve and hopeful prayers:
The Lord’s salvation is at hand,
Rejoice at His benign command.

Our souls awake in joyful praise,
The fingers of the rosy dawn
Glow in the East to give us hope
Of Judah’s crowning, happy dawn:
Where there was sorrow now is praise;
Emmanuel for all our days.

Now may we walk at Mary’s side
To help her cousin with the birth
Of one who will prepare the way
For God incarnate, here on earth:
Rejoice my soul, this cheerful day,
Rehearse your anthems, Gaudete!


Kevin Carey (november 1951)
Holy Trinity Church in Hurstpierpoint, de woonplaats van Kevin Carey


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 17e december ook mijn twee vorige blogs van vandaag.