Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Wendell Berry (Christmas Day)

Merry Christmas!

It's not often that Christmas falls on a Sunday. And what better way to celebrate than with a poem by Wendell Berry, his sixth Sabbath poem -- and so unnamed, the title below being mine -- of the year 1990.

Blessings on this day of happy celebration.

- - - - - - -

St. Vith, December 21, 1944

By Wendell Berry

Cut off in front of the line
that now ran through St. Vith,
the five American tanks sat
in a field covered with snow
in the dark. And now they must
retreat to safety, which they
could do only through gunfire
and flame in the burning town.
They went, firing, through the fire,
GIs and German prisoners
clinging to the hulls, and out
again into the still night beyond.
In the broad dark, someone
began to sing, and one by one
the others sang also, the German
prisoners singing in German,
the Americans in English,
the one song. "Silent night,"
they sang as the great treads
passed on across the dark
countryside muffled in white
snow, "Holy night."

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