Wednesday, December 06, 2006

POETRY | A Christmas Carol

Jeanette Winterson finally updated her website for December 2006. My favourite section on her site is the Poem of the Month. It's part of her mission to spread the music of the word. She features the poetry that she fancies, and it's apparently the most visited and re-visited part of her website. No surprise. She wrote something in The Times a while back on poetry:

The comfort of poetry is very real, but poetry is not a painkiller; it is a cure. Where there is no cure, poetry helps us to live with the problem. Poems don’t hide things, they reveal things about ourselves, they ‘put into words things difficult to think’, (Dante), and this difficult thinking won’t mask the trouble for a while, like an aspirin for a headache, but it will work to bring out the grief, the pain, the confusion, the mixed feelings, the anger, the impotence. We talk about being ‘lost for words’, about ‘having nothing to say’, but the poem finds the words, and has something to say, which is why poetry is worth our time.

This month we look forward to Christmas, and Ms Winterson has chosen something for us to think about during this crazy season. I would recommend you visit Ms Winterson's website at Take a look around, and if you like what you see, bookmark it. And revisit it often.

Here is Ms Winterson's choice for December. A hymn.



In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter

Our God, Heaven cannot hold
Nor earth
Heaven and Earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign:
the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God
Jesus Christ.

Enough for him whom cherubim
Worship night and
A breastful of milk
And a manger full of hay;
Enough for him, whom
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel

Angels and archangels
May have gathered
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only his
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the beloved
With a

What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my
Yet what can I give Him,
Give my heart.

PS: While I've included the poem here, I would also recommend that you visit Ms Winterson's Poetry page yourself to read what she has to say about her choice. She writes so much more eloquently than me about this poem and the gift of the heart. (This, of course, is an understatement. It's like saying Jupiter is bigger than a duck. True, but so much more. That I stole from Neil Gaiman. It's from Neverwhere, I think.)

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