Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19: A Mortal, Upheld, Donald Hall

"I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall."

"Bear but a touch of my hand there," said the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, "and you shall be upheld in more than this."

Scrooge is arguing with the Ghost of Christmas Past, who is leading Scrooge to an open window.  Scrooge does not want to take the leap of faith and step out of the window with the Ghost.  Rightfully so, he fears for his mortal life.  The Ghost's response intimates that he will protect and uphold Scrooge both physically and spiritually.  At least, that's the way I've always interpreted the Ghost's words.  The response itself is poetic, hinting at both pain and redemption.

Tonight, my wife and I are going to a dinner in honor of Donald Hall, former U. S. Poet Laureate.  He's in the area as part of the 2012 U. P. Book Tour, and this little shindig this evening is the meet-and-greet portion of his visit.  It's chicken cordon bleu with Don.

Donald Hall has been one of my favorite poets since I've been aware of poetry.  His poetic voice is deeply human, and his subject matter touches upon deeply human experiences.  Whether he's writing about the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon, or a children's Christmas program, Hall upholds the universe, raises his eyes to heaven and doesn't blink in the face of sorrow or joy.

If you can't guess, I really like Donald Hall.  His words have upheld me through a lot of things in my life, and it's going to be exciting to just shake his hand and thank him.

That's about all Saint Marty has to say this morning.  He's going to let Donald Hall have the last word.

Christmas party at the South Danbury Church

December twenty-first
we gather at the white Church festooned
red and green, the tree flashing
green-red lights beside the altar.
After the children of Sunday School
recite Scripture, sing songs,
and scrape out solos,
they retire to dress for the finale,
to perform the pageant
again: Mary and Joseph kneeling
cradleside, Three Kings,
shepherds and shepherdesses. Their garments
are bathrobes with mothholes,
cut down from the Church's ancestors.
Standing short and long,
they stare in all directions for mothers,
sisters and brothers,
giggling and waving in recognition,
and at the South Danbury
Church, a moment before Santa
arrives with her ho-hos
and bags of popcorn, in the half-dark
of whole silence, God
enters the world as a newborn again.

          ----Donald Hall

Donald Hall and his wife, poet Jane Kenyon

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