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Featured Poem: Merry Christmas by Louisa May Alcott

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 24th December 2018

The Reader's Learning and Quality Leader, Amanda Boston, shares her thoughts on this week's festive Featured Poem, Merry Christmas by Louisa May Alcott.

This poem is such a timely antidote to the usual seasonal soundtrack of  Shakin’ Stevens, Slade et al. Reading the poem aloud brings a sense of calm and mystery into the room.  I confess to feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment by my “to do” list but this poem made me stop and really think about “the glory of the day” and what our expectations are and why?

In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns though the gray
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day

Those four questions in the second verse brought me up a short. I struggled at first to get beyond the cute image of the “rows of little socks to fill” but then in these troubled times wondered what a “palm of peace” might feel like?

I loved the lines

Waiting, watching, listening always
With full hearts and tender eyes

I could feel the tears coming. I am sure that you will have your own favourite lines.

My three daughters and I always watch the film Little Women (based on Louisa May Alcott’s much loved novel) together over Christmas. This year I am going to insist we read this poem first!

Merry Christmas

In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day,
Then we hear a fitful rustling
Just without upon the stair,
See two small white phantoms coming,
Catch the gleam of sunny hair.

Are they Christmas fairies stealing
Rows of little socks to fill?
Are they angels floating hither
With their message of good-will?
What sweet spell are these elves weaving,
As like larks they chirp and sing?
Are these palms of peace from heaven
That these lovely spirits bring?

Rosy feet upon the threshold,
Eager faces peeping through,
With the first red ray of sunshine,
Chanting cherubs come in view:
Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
Symbols of a blessed day,
In their chubby hands they carry,
Streaming all along the way.

Well we know them, never weary
Of this innocent surprise;
Waiting, watching, listening always
With full hearts and tender eyes,
While our little household angels,
White and golden in the sun,
Greet us with the sweet old welcome,—
"Merry Christmas, every one!"

by Louisa May Alcott

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

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