Thursday, December 23, 2010

`To Praise and Remember'

What follows is a guaranteed antidote to mandatory Christmas cheer and the sensation of drowning in a flood of in-laws:

Step 1: Go here and listen to James P. Johnson perform “Snowy Morning Blues.”

Step 2: Repeat Step 1.

Step 3: Read “December, 1972” by Janet Lewis (from Poems Old and New: 1918-1978):

“Rosemary, bay and redwood spray—
I pray you, love, remember.
The hills are green, the skies are grey
Here in our mild December.
We bring our candles and our wreathes
In honor of a blessed day,
To praise and to remember.

“The nights grow longer, and there breathes
A coldness from the rainwet earth
Like sorrow rising in the heart,
A grief from wrongs in which our part
Was sometimes active, sometimes less
In hatred and neglectfulness.
But we are ever sinful men.
Earth’s heavy shadow hides our sun
As if all joy should be undone,
As if we and our race were run.

“Still in such darkness once was born
The very love that moves the stars;
Star of our night, first flower of spring,
The Holy Babe of Christmas morn;
Who is eternally reborn
For us in our remembering.
Therefore, though sorrowing, let us sing
In praise of God’s eternal joy,
And of that little Holy Boy.”

Step 4: Repeat Steps 1 and 3.

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