A Week to Christmas

I’ve posted this poem a couple of times in the past, but it’s worth revisiting during this manic materialistic holiday season in which the J- and C-words must never be mentioned:

A Week to Christmas

by Louis MacNeice (part XX of “Autumn Journal”, 1938)

A week to Christmas, cards of snow and holly,
Gimcracks in the shops,
Wishes and memories wrapped in tissue paper,
Trinkets, gadgets and lollipops
And as if through coloured glasses
We remember the childhood thrill
Waking in the morning to the rustling of paper,
The eiderdown heaped in a hill
Of wogs and dogs and bears and bricks and apples
And the feeling that Christmas Day
Was a coral island in time where we land and eat our lotus
But where we can never stay.

There was a star in the East, the magi in their turbans
Brought their luxury toys
In homage to a child born to capsize their values
And wreck their equipoise.
A smell of hay like peace in the dark stable —
Not peace however but a sword
To cut the Gordian knot of logical self-interest,
The fool-proof golden cord;
For Christ walked in where philosophers tread
But armed with more than folly,
Making the smooth place rough and knocking the heads
Of Church and State together.
In honour of whom we have taken over the pagan
Saturnalia for our annual treat
Letting the belly have its say, ignoring
The spirit while we eat.
And Conscience still goes crying through the desert
With sackcloth round his loins:
A week to Christmas — hark the herald angels
Beg for copper coins.

For my remarks on the poem and the surrounding cultural context, see the post from 2017.

4 thoughts on “A Week to Christmas

  1. “So here we are, closing out the Year of Our Lord 2011 with reindeer and snowmen and Santa Clauses and all the other gimcracks.” “Here we are with heaps of teddy bears and candles whenever another gunman kills eight or ten people in his former place of employment.” “Here we are with tattoos, piercings, ghetto gear, texting, reality TV, “get over it,” and “whatever.” “It’s no wonder that Islam is making such inroads into the Western world. Our spiritual vacuum can scarcely be filled with stuffed animals and flowers.”
    And, here we are ten tears later, shooters kill people routinely daily, abortion and LGBTQ issues are normalized, mandated CV-19 vaccinations are universal. Islam has made steady and tremendous inroads into the Western world.

  2. To me, Islam is not a real religion. Don’t ask me why I say it but I do. And I do agree that many people get so caught up in the “things” of Christmas that they forget what the true meaning of Christmas is.

    However, I do wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Perhaps you, like I, are thinking of your spouse. I miss him terribly even after three years.

    However, I have children, grandchildren, and now a great-grandchild so there is much to celebrate.

    Dear Baron, Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

  3. You are correct Baron, Christmastime is a Saturnalia in which Jesus Christ is sorely lacking and more than obviously absent. Rome never fell, it simply reinvented itself with the help of the Papacy. The gods and goddesses became saints and kept their feast days. In a backhanded way Islam was used to clean house with the five Solas as the result. Thankfully no one has thrown any rocks at me for wishing them a merry Christmas but maybe they were thinking that I was referring to the orgy of gifts and food that they were looking forward to.
    On another note, the reindeer with have five-pointed stars mounted between their left and right antlers as Star Bucks who are pulling Santa’s sleigh that has starbuck’s mascot Semiramis pictured on the rear of the sleigh.

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