In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter
By Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.

About the Poem

In verse one, Rossetti describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem, which refers to the birth of Jesus, when God became flesh and assumed a human nature. In verse two, Rossetti contrasts Christ’s first and second coming. The third verse dwells on Christ’s birth and describes the simple surroundings, in a humble stable and watched by beasts of burden. Rossetti achieves another contrast in the fourth verse, this time between the angels who were attending Christ at his birth and Mary’s ability to show Jesus physical affection, a kiss. The final verse shifts the description to a more introspective thought process.

While this is a Christmas poem, and was originally published, under the title “A Christmas Carol”, in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly, Midwinter itself has two meanings: the Winter Solstice or the actual midpoint of winter. Many people think the midpoint of winter is today, Groundhog Day, but it actually varies. The 2021 Farmers’ Almanac says that it is Wednesday, February 3rd at 4:49 p.m. EST—the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Either way, we have reached midwinter, so I thought this was an appropriate poem for today.

We are supposed to get hit pretty bad by a nor’easter today. It is the same storm that came through northern New Jersey, New York City, and Boston yesterday. I’m hoping it won’t be as bad here. Our local weather has said that while the prediction is 6”-12”, they believe it will be on the lower end of that scale.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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