Saturday, December 14, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #11

This next poem after “Christmas Longing” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #10) depicts Mary grieving through scenes at the Cross interwoven with flashbacks of the Nativity story, beginning and ending with her hope-filled Magnificat....


MARY AT THE CROSS

Time suspended, time that stops
In between the crimson drops:
As they tumble to the ground
Somehow she can stare around
Seeing scenes of yesterday,
Hearing angel’s words that say,
“Highly favored, have no fear!
From your virgin womb this year
By the Spirit’s power alone
Comes the King for David’s throne,
Sinner’s Savior, Holy One,
God Almighty’s only Son.”

Then, the words her cousin told
(As it trickles red and cold,
His life-blood before the tomb),
“Blest, the fruit that fills your womb!
Blest are you of womankind,
Mother of our Lord Divine!”
And her song sung in reply,
“My soul praises God on high!
In my Savior I rejoice!
Making me His humble choice,
Causing all to call me ‘blest,’
God has done for me the best!
Mighty is His holy name,
Ageless grace, and endless fame!”

As she stands before His cross,
Feeling pain, heart-rending loss,
She remembers public shame,
Pregnant with no man to blame.
She recalls dear Joseph’s care:
Taught by dreams her task to share,
How he guarded her from scorn
Till the baby boy was born . . .
Worried when her pains began
As they came to Bethlehem,
He implored each house and hall
Just to find a stable stall.
In its filth the baby came
’Neath an oily torch’s flame.
Wakened by a holy light,
Shepherds visited that night.
Angels beckoned them to run
To the town to find the One
Called the Christ whose wondrous birth
Brought down Heaven’s peace to earth.

On the hill called Calvary
Witnessing his agony,
Aching with a dreadful sob,
Hearing laughter from the mob,
She, with other women’s tears,
Weeps and dreams back through the years
To the visit of the Three:
Magi from the East to see
Little Jesus on her lap
Swaddled in a woolen wrap.
Frankincense and myrrh and gold,
“Royal presents,” they were told.
One day he would reign as King. . .
How could they have said this thing,
When with torment now he cries
Up to cold and silent skies?

Darkness gathers, shadows fall,
Thunder echoes with his call. . .
Mournful cry: “My God!  My God!”
She falls prostrate on the sod.
Then she somehow overhears
Whispered words that ease her fears,
Words that re-ignite the dream
Shattered by her son’s last scream.
“It is finished!” he had cried.
Now the guard that pierced his side
Whispers when the deed is done,
“Surely He was God’s own Son!”

Mary keeps that faithful word
In her thoughts until she’s heard
Peter tell her, “He arose,”
Smiles, and nods as if she knows. . .
How could it be otherwise?
And again her heart replies,
Filled with overwhelming love,
“My soul praises God above!
In my Savior I rejoice!
Making me His humble choice,
Causing all to call me ‘blest,’
God has done for me the best!
Mighty is His holy name,
Ageless grace, and endless fame!”

— David L. Hatton, 2/8/1992

(this is in Poems Between Darkness and Light
for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Friday, December 13, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #10

Keeping my posting in chronological order . . . after “CHRISTMAS COLORS” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #9), I wrote a post-Christmas Day poem on Epiphany (Jan. 6), which is actually after the “12 days of Christmastide.” It’s both a psychological and spiritual reflection....


CHRISTMAS LONGING

What is it, yuletide lad and lass,
That thirsts beyond the bottomed glass,
That whispers under wrap and band
But disappears with gift in hand?
What child is this within the soul
That craves surprise, as if a goal,
Yet once desire is quenched in time
Seeks on for wonders more sublime?

With drying boughs and dying scents
The tree that shadowed presents hints
Persistent longings we perceive
As time ticks by toward New Year’s Eve.
Bright ribbon dreams unleashed with glee
Postponed the real expectancy—
It lingers, yearning deep inside:
“What have I missed at Christmastide?”

We knew it in the token care
Both cards and presents meant to bear,
A Love Divine the season brings
Just whispered in the gifts and things.
These kind thoughts stay on shelf and wall,
Or line a drawer or deck a hall,
But are not quite the heart’s delight
As wrapped to strains of “Silent Night.”

Eternity with Endless Love
Is what our hopes were thinking of—
A heaven-wish for where God dwells
Reverberates in Christmas bells.
God’s Gift of Love in human wrap,
Who laid in Mary’s gentle lap,
Completes the dream within our hearts:
The longing ends, fulfillment starts.

— David L. Hatton, 1/6/1991

for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #9

A full 9 years after “CHRISTMAS MESSAGE” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #8), I wrote one of my favorites, which I printed out in color (link to printable PDF file) and recorded my own reading of it on YouTube....


for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #8

My previous year’s poem, “THE THREE VISIONS OF BALTHASAR” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #7), highlighted implications of the 1st and 2nd Advent. This one focuses on the time in between them, where we can embrace the work of Christ in His 1st Coming, as we anticipate His return....

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Dark shadows of a dying age
Where selfishness has prominence
Are broken by the memory
Of ancient astral radiance.

The Star announcing human hope:
The writhing race not left to span
Alone the history of pain—
He, the Maker, was born a man. . .

Hope, not just words and not just prayers,
But living hope, because He paid
The penalty of death for sins
Committed by the race He made.

Yet search for meaning, joy, and peace,
And lasting happiness without Him,
Goes daily on in loneliness,
While rays of time grow quickly dim.

They label Star and Birth both “myth”
But drink with optimistic cheer
To drown their hurt and failure’s past,
To dream a brighter coming year.

As tears pass by, the thirst unquenched,
All chapters close with fears ingrown,
And Mary’s Child who died and rose
Reigns gentle peace, or goes unknown.

Remember Him, dear child of dust:
Before He comes to judge this earth,
Don’t let your heart say, “There’s no room!”
Receive the King who gives new birth.

— David L. Hatton, 12/2/1980

for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #7

Written 7 years after  “THIS CHRISTMAS WHY NOT. . .” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #6), I was 29, beginning nursing school. This Advent-centered poem interweaves both 1st and 2nd Advent themes, coloring the Nativity’s prophetic anticipation with an apocalyptic, end-time premonition....

THE THREE VISIONS OF BALTHASAR

When Gaspar, Melchior and I
Had journeyed long toward the Star,
A vision came to haunt my heart;
I heard a voice call: “Balthasar!”
My world grew empty, dull and dark,
The thrill of magic left my soul,
The Star that glittered up ahead
Became in me a burning coal.
The voice that called spoke yet again.
“Behold,” it cried, and I could see
That wealth and fame and wisdom’s store
Began to faint and fade and flee,
And all I sought for years before
Seemed useless now within the night
That closed about my trembling breast,
As we rode on toward the Light.
The two Magicians heard this tale
At dawn before we stopped and slept.
They nodded silently and stared,
And Gaspar bowed his head and wept.

A second night, as we went on,
The mystic Light became a stream
That swirled and churned into a flood
That filled the smiles of every dream.
Then tragically it turned to blood,
And darkness smothered all the sky,
Until the flood began to gleam
And once again swirled up on high!
It brightly shone upon the earth
As if its beam of living Light
Would somehow give my life new birth!
And when I shared with Melchior
The second vision from the Star
He said, while gazing to the West,
“It’s well we came, O Balthasar.”

That night of brightest astral glow,
Before we came to Palestine,
My eyes upon the Silver Glare
Beheld a final startling sign:
I saw our world was filled with vice—
How rich had trampled down the poor,
How women’s flesh was sold for lust,
How every land was red with war,
How good men’s hopes were turned to dust.
I watched a billion infants scream
And starve, while cattle fed on wheat.
But some were killed before they cried,
While help to spare them met defeat.
I saw how love and justice died;
How men in passion laid with men;
How violence ran the village street:
The planet staggered in its sin!
But suddenly the Star burst forth
And many sparkles left the earth
And rose to join the raging Star.
The world below had lost its worth—
It moaned in self-made misery.
Then, purging flames fell quickly down
And quenched man’s tragic history.
A voice called softly, “Balthasar . . .”
And I looked up with fearful eye
To see the peaceful, faithful Star
Shine gently in the Western sky.

When my companions heard this too,
We vowed to leave our magic arts
And serve this King the Star announced,
To bow to Him with humble hearts.
And you who hear my mystic song,
If you are wise, as I am gray,
Will also seek to find that King,
And worship Him, and wait His day.

— David L. Hatton, 11/24/1979

(this is in Poems Between Heaven and Hell
for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Saturday, December 7, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #6

The same year I wrote “The Mystery of Christmas Love” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #5), I did another homemade Christmas card, using this poem. Again, I was using the occasion of our common Christmas celebration to tell the whole Gospel story....


THIS CHRISTMAS WHY NOT. . .

    Think about the Savior,
    Descending here to earth
    And trading Heaven's glories
    For lowly Virgin Birth.

    Think about the Savior,
    About the truths He taught,
    About the sinless life He lived . . .
    The miracles He wrought.

    Think about the Savior
    Arising from the dead
    And going back to Heaven,
    Thus, proving all He'd said.

    Think about the Savior
    Who's waiting to receive
    Each sinner who is willing
    To trust Him and believe.

    Yes, think about Christ Jesus,
    This season, with concern;
    For He is not just Savior
    But Judge, at His return.

            — David L. Hatton, 12/1972

(this is in Poems Between Death and Life -
for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)

Friday, December 6, 2019

MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #5

After “The Why of Christmas” (see MY POEMS OF CHRISTMAS #4), I put more effort into poetic structure. This next poem is in iambic pentameter, seen so often in Shakespeare. But I had developed an “interlocking” rhyme pattern for long stanzas (abacbdcedfegfg), such as the following example. It was tedious work but I enjoyed the challenge....


  THE MYSTERY OF CHRISTMAS LOVE

Though kings may don poor clothes to know their lands
And cross the hierarchal breach of man,
Though men many sail in vessels built with hands
Around the world or to another star,
And though they were all distances to span,
Their exploits are all dwarfed and seem so small
Beside the greatest journey from afar—
When Jesus came two thousand years ago,
He stripped Himself of glories, wealth and all
To take upon Himself the dust we wear,
To bear all earthly hardships humans know,
To give us life that we knew nothing of.
How could He leave His Father’s presence there
To take on flesh in this vile world of sin?
That is the mystery of Christmas love!
But stranger still, which none can understand,
Is how by death Christ spanned the gap to win
The sinner to Himself and pay sin’s debt.
All this is wondrous, great, but sad, though grand,
For we reject, neglect, let pass. . .forget.

                        — David L. Hatton, 1972

(this is in Poems Between Heaven and Hell -
for purchasing it, go to My Books 4 Sale)