The Christmas Tree

Today I would like to share my favourite Christmas poem, The Christmas Tree, by Cecil Day Lewis (1904-72), a man who lived for poetry. He was poet laureate, a member of the poetry panel of the Arts Council, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a director of the English Festival of Spoken Poetry.

The Christmas Tree

Put out the lights now!
Look at the Tree, the rough tree dazzled
In oriole plumes of flame,
Tinselled with twinkling frost fire,
Tasseled with stars and moons – the same
That yesterday hid in the spinney and had no fame
Till we put out the lights now.

Hard are the nights now:
The fields at moonrise turn to agate
Shadows as cold as jet; in dyke and furrow
In copse and faggot
The frost’s tooth is set;
And stars are the sparks whirled out by the north wind’s fret
On the flinty nights now.

So feast your eyes now,
on mimic star and moon-cold bauble;
Worlds may wither unseen,
But the Christmas tree is a tree of fable,
A phoenix in evergreen,
And the world cannot change or chill what its mysteries mean
To your heart and eyes now.

The vision dies now: candle by candle
The tree that embraced it
Returns to its own kind,
To be earthed again and weather as best it
May the frost and the wind.
Children – it too had its hour; you will not mind
If it lives or dies now.

 

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Happy Christmas, everyone!

15 thoughts on “The Christmas Tree

  1. It is, indeed, a very beautiful poem, and the words, ‘the Christmas tree is a tree of fable, a phoenix in evergreen’ are perfect. Lovely descriptions throughout: ‘The fields at moonrise turn to agate’… Just beautiful. Like all living things, however, it ‘returns to its own kind’. A poignant line.
    Thank you for reminding me about this poem. It’s a while since I read or heard it.
    I’m a little late to wish you a Happy Christmas, but I do wish you a most Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

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