Christmas, 1880 by George MacDonald

Great-hearted child, thy very being The Son,
Who know’st the hearts of all us prodigals;—
For who is prodigal but he who has gone
Far from the true to heart it with the false?—
Who, who but thou, that, from the animals’,
Know’st all the hearts, up to the Father’s own,
Can tell what it would be to be alone!

Alone! No father!—At the very thought
Thou, the eternal light, wast once aghast;
A death in death for thee it almost wrought!
But thou didst haste, about to breathe thy last,
And call’dst out Father ere thy spirit passed,
Exhausted in fulfilling not any vow,
But doing his will who greater is than thou.

That we might know him, thou didst come and live;
That we might find him, thou didst come and die;
The son-heart, brother, thy son-being give—
We too would love the father perfectly,
And to his bosom go back with the cry,
Father, into thy hands I give the heart
Which left thee but to learn how good thou art!

There are but two in all the universe—
The father and his children—not a third;
Nor, all the weary time, fell any curse!
Not once dropped from its nest an unfledged bird
But thou wast with it! Never sorrow stirred
But a love-pull it was upon the chain
That draws the children to the father again!

O Jesus Christ, babe, man, eternal son,
Take pity! we are poor where thou art rich:
Our hearts are small; and yet there is not one
In all thy father’s noisy nursery which,
Merry, or mourning in its narrow niche,
Needs not thy father’s heart, this very now,
With all his being’s being, even as thou!

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  


False blue,
Colour of lilac,
Your great puffs of flowers
Are everywhere in this my New England.
Among your heart-shaped leaves
Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing
Their little weak soft songs;
In the crooks of your branches
The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs
Peer restlessly through the light and shadow
Of all Springs.
Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.

Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Frost Spirit by John Greenleaf Whittier

HE COMES,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit comes,
you may trace his footsteps now,
in the naked woods and the blasted fields
and the brown hill’s withered brow.

He has smitten the leaves of the gray old trees
where their pleasant green came forth,
And the winds, which follow wherever he goes,
have shaken them down to earth.

He comes,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit comes!
from the frozen Labrador,
From the icy bridge of the Northern seas,
which the white bear wanders o’er,

Where the fisherman’s sail is stiff with ice,
and the luckless forms below
In the sunless cold of the lingering night
into marble statues grow.

He comes,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit
comes on the rushing Northern blast,
And the dark Norwegian pines have
bowed as his fearful breath went past.

With an unscorched wing he has hurried on,
where the fires of Hecla glow
On the darkly beautiful sky above
and the ancient ice below.

He comes,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit
comes and the quiet lake shall feel
The torpid touch of his glazing breath,
and ring to the skater’s heel;

And the streams which danced on the broken rocks,
or sang to the leaning grass,
Shall bow again to their winter chain,
and in mournful silence pass.

He comes,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit comes!
Let us meet him as we may,
And turn with the light of the parlor-fire
his evil power away;

And gather closer the circle round,
when that fire-light dances high,
And laugh at the shriek of the baffled Fiend
as his sounding wing goes by!

Published in: on February 8, 2007 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Epistle to a Student of Dead Languages

by Philip Freneau (1795)

I pity him, who at no small xpense,
Has studied sound instead of sense:
He, proud some antique gibberish to attain;
of Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, vain,
Devours the husk, and leaves the grain.

In his own language Homer writ and read,
Not spent his life in poring on the dead:
Why then your native language not pursue
In which all ancient sense (that’s worth review)
Glows in translation, fresh and new?

He better plans, who things, not words, attends,
And turns his studious hours to active ends;
Who art through every secret maze explores,
Invents, contrives–and Nature’s hidden stores
From mirrours, to their object true,
Presents to man’s obstructed view,
That dimly meets the light, and faintly soars: —

His strong capacious mind
By fetters unconfin’d
Of Latin lore and heathen Greek,
Takes Science in its way,
Pursues the kindling ray
‘Till Reason’s morn shall on him break!

Published in: on January 21, 2007 at 5:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Approaches by George MacDonald

When thou turn’st away from ill,
Christ is this side of thy hill.

When thou turnest toward good,
Christ is walking in thy wood.

When thy heart says, “Father, pardon!”
Then the Lord is in thy garden.

When stern Duty wakes to watch,
Then his hand is on the latch.

But when Hope thy song doth rouse,
Then the Lord is in the house.

When to love is all thy wit,
Christ doth at thy table sit.

When God’s will is thy heart’s pole,
Then is Christ thy very soul.

From The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, 1893

Published in: on January 4, 2007 at 12:28 am  Leave a Comment