Poetry of Christmas
by Fr Leonard Feeney MICM
This poetry is reprinted here with the kind permission of Johann Roten at the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio.
It appeared on the Marian Pages website.
No music He heard, and no angels He saw
As He lay in His wrappings of linen and straw;
And the ox and the ass could not kneel and adore
For the poor creatures never were angels before.
The palace He found was an old cattle stall
With a broken-down roof and a windowless wall,
And it looked so ashamed of its spider-worn wood;
But it tried to be Heaven, as well as it could.
A dull stable-lantern that hung dark and dim
Was the small bit of moonlight that flickered on Him.
Now it longed to be beautiful, starry and bright;
And it sputtered and wept for the dearth of its light.
But a Lady of Beauty stood over His head.
While she gathered the strewings about for His bed.
And her soul was as sweet as a fresh-budding rose
And as white as the fusion of myriad snows.
And her hands did not soil this immaculate prize,
And her breath did not sully the bloom in His eyes.
On her breast sweet and safe could He slumber and nod:
The lily-white village-maid, Mother of God.
The Lonely Crib
I pity the slender Mother-maid
For the night was dark and her heart afraid
As she knelt in the straw where the beasts had trod
And crooned and cooed to the living God.
And I pity Saint Joseph whose heart wept o'er
The ruined stall and the broken floor
And the roof unmended for Him and her,
And to think himself was a carpenter!
O Thrones, Dominions, Spirits of Power,
Where were you there in that bitter hour!
And where the Cherubim-wings withal
To cover the wind-holes in the wall!
The faded eyes of a wondering ass
Were dreamy mirrors where visions pass.
And a poor old ox in the stable dim
His moo was the song of the Seraphim!
The night before Our Lord was born
Saint Joseph went about forlorn,
Knocking at doors from left to right,
Knocking at every door in sight,
Asking if anybody would,
Oh please, would anyone be so good
As to invite the Virgin Mary
In somebody's house that night to tarry
And had they a room to spare where she
Could wait for Our Lord's Nativity?
But poor Saint Joseph was quite unable
To find a lodging, except a stable;
And it was stuffy and cold and damp,
It had no window, it had no lamp,
It had no table, no bed, no chairs,
It had no up-stairs and no down-stairs;
A very unsuitable place it was,
Inhabited by an ox and an ass;
But they were polite to Our Blessed Mother,
They stood beside her and made no bother,
And did not utter a bray or a moo
Until the time it was proper to,
When the moon went down at the break of morn;
And Christmas began, and Our Lord was born.
And Our Lord was beautiful to behold
The minute He was one minute old.
And He smiled, but of course He did not speak,
He was too little, He was too weak;
But He did do all that He was required:
He lay in the manger and was admired,
And was most worthy to be adored,
For really and truly He was Our Lord!
The inn that would not bed and board
The Blessed Mother of Our Lord,
That night when it had ought, when she
Was most in need of hostelry
I think I would not pay a pin
To stop at such a stupid inn.
I think it was a dive, a den;
I hereby scourge it with my pen.
from Marian Pages
Reprinted with permission.