A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

IMG_3043The years between 1861 and 1863 were not kind to the American poet, Henry Wadworth Longfellow. In 1861, his wife died after an accident when her dress caught fire. In 1863, his son Charles ran away to join the Civil War on the Union side. Charles was sent home after being horribly wounded in the back. Charles eventually recovered and went on to have a full and adventurous life, but during that year his future looked bleak.

Longfellow wrote “Christmas Bells” on christmas Day in 1863. It seems especially relevant as we celebrate this Christmas, undaunted despite a scary year behind us and a scary year ahead. Merry Christmas, dear readers!

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet
The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along
The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound
The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn
The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Thanks to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Heard_the_Bells_on_Christmas_Day for lyrics and background

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  1. Michelle Kunert says:

    and a Marry Christmas to you to, please see my poems on Medusas’ kitchen today http://medusaskitchen.blogspot.com/

    >

  2. I love this poem. John Gorka, one of my favorite contemporary folk singers, put this the poem to music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2nxeACcW3I
    Merry Christmas, Carrie!
    — Jamie from Book Club

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