Keeping Christmas, day twelve

No night could be darker than this night,
No cold so cold,
As the blood snaps like a wire,
And the heart’s sap stills,
And the year seems defeated.

O never again, it seems, can green things run,
Or sky birds fly,
Or the grass exhale its humming breath
Powdered with pimpernels,
From this dark lung of winter.

Yet here are lessons for the final mile
Of pilgim kings;
The mile still left when all have reached
Their tether’s end: that mile
Where the Child lies hid

For see, beneath the hand, the earth already
Warms and glows;
For men with shepherd’s eyes there are
Signs in the dark, the turning stars,
The lamb’s returning time.

Out of this utter death he’s born again,
His birth our saviour;
From terror’s equinox he climbs and grows,
Drawing his finger’s light across our blood –
The sun of heaven, and the son of god."

--"Twelfth Night", by Laurie Lee
Musical setting by Samuel Barber

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