Monday, December 13, 2010

Sonnet To a Stranger at Christmas

[image from jonatkinson.com]

[I wrote this poem in 1963, when we were asked to write a sonnet at school. It was December. It appears I have had these conflicting thoughts about Christmas - excess in a world of inequities - since I was young. I was seventeen. What I most wanted to do was go to Africa and care for orphans. I so wish that I had.]

Pure snowflakes fall upon a dust-gray street:
Love's beauty, scattered by a Baby's fingers.
The softened, hov'ring winter darkness lingers:
A gentle life, so sweet to me, so sweet!
Clear, poignant carols echo on the air,
Sung by the pale-lipped children of December.
With breathless joy, always will I remember
Their angel-sounds, so fair to hear, so fair.
The gifts pile high under the Christmas tree.
The gaiety grows greater every day.
Into my dreams, a starved child finds his way:
"A crust of bread for me, a crust for me."
The thought of him remains all season through -
So far away, so little I can do.

7 comments:

  1. Sherry
    Beautiful and poignant piece.
    Pamela

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  2. Sherry, the image was heartbreaking and speaks to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just one day a year. Not just your family and friends. Not just when it's convenient.

    If you really follow the message of Jesus, you have to work hard, go places you aren't comfortable, speak truth to power, speak up when people who assume you're "in their country club" (because you're the 48th white person in the room) use racial epithets, step into a circle of kids who are taunting the gay student and make them back off, protect an old vet who's defending the Bush Iraq war at a peace rally. You have to step up, stand up. Otherwise, Christmas is just another holiday with sales and presents and whatever.

    All those years ago, and you were writing this brilliantly. The years have not mellowed you, Sherry - they have made you stronger. I value that.

    Amy Barlow Liberatore (Sharp Little Pencil)

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  3. Oh I so agree, Amy. Hearts that feel for the down trodden, the gay-bashed, the mistreated, both children and animals, have to stand up, to speak out.

    The little fellow in the photo breaks my heart. But you inspired me last week - when I have some money I am going to buy a cow for the family of a little fellow just like that.

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  4. Sherry, that was indeed very nicely expressed and your true emotions of kindness of the soul and deprivation of the poor seeps through the poem.

    Keep writing.

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  5. Isn't is sad, as we celebrate, so many people go hungry. The stark contrast between the general gaiety is wonderfully expressed. Feel bad for million orphans like him, for I can't do much about it.

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  6. You were obviously born with your poetic talent. This is just beautiful, and all the more so because it was written by a seventeen-year-old.

    I was also seventeen in 1963, and I most wanted to join the Peace Corps. I too so wish I had.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this beautiful expressive poem, so well written so young, glad you kept writing.

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