I heard the bells on Christmas Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There isn’t much God in my Christmas. Religion doesn’t have much part in my life any other day of the year so it would be a little hypocritical to suddenly warm up to him to geg in on some birthday party.

Capitalism has put pains to the idea of Christmas as a purely religious occasion but it’s right that it should be for those who believe in it. For the rest of us, Christmas is still a celebration to be embraced, after all, much of it’s charms were founded in pagan Midwinter and solstice celebrations – bringing greenery indoors to brighten the short days and long nights, people coming together to feast on the spoils of the harvest – those are the best bits of Christmas anyway.

Except when it comes to poetry. When it comes to poetry it is the garbs of the Christian celebration that go straight to the heart – “the old familiar carols” which even in my pagan state, never fail to warm my soul, “the bells” ring out “wild and sweet”, and convictions that should be universal, beyond the walls of any church, “peace on earth, good will to men (and women, presumably…)”.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
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.’

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.

 

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