Literary Advent Calendar: December 23, 2021

December 23, 2021

Along With Youth by Ernest Hemingway

A porcupine skin, 

Stiff with bad tanning, 

It must have ended somewhere. 

Stuffed horned owl Pompous Yellow eyed; 

Chuck-wills-widow on a biassed twig 

Sooted with dust. 

Piles of old magazines, 

Drawers of boy’s letters 

And the line of love 

They must have ended somewhere. 

Yesterday’s Tribune is gone 

Along with youth 

And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach 

The year of the big storm 

When the hotel burned down 

At Seney, Michigan.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Winter Trees

William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 21, 2021

December 21, 2021

In the Bleak Midwinter

Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter
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 midwinter

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 midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 20, 2021

December 20, 2021

When the Year Grows Old

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I cannot but remember
  When the year grows old—
  How she disliked the cold!

She used to watch the swallows
  Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
  With a little sharp sigh.

And often when the brown leaves
  Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
  Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
  That I wish I could forget—
The look of a scared thing
  Sitting in a net!

Oh, beautiful at nightfall
  The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
  Rubbing to and fro!

But the roaring of the fire,
  And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
  Were beautiful to her!

I cannot but remember
  When the year grows old—
  How she disliked the cold!

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 19, 2021

December 19, 2021

The Snow Storm

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

   Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 18, 2021

December 18, 2021

The Darkling Thrush

Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
            When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
             The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
             Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
             Had sought their household fires.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind

William Shakespeare

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
  Thou art not so unkind
     As man’s ingratitude;
  Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
     Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
  Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
     This life is most jolly.

  Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
  That dost not bite so nigh
     As benefits forgot:
  Though thou the waters warp,
     Thy sting is not so sharp
     As friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly…

You Like It, Act II Scene VII.

Happy Holidays!

Literary Advent Calendar: December 4, 2021

December 4, 2021

Spellbound by Emily Brontë

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

Happy Holidays!

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is the youngest presidential inaugural poet in US history. She read her poem The Hill We Climb on January 20, 2021 at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. Maybe it’s because a few weeks earlier domestic terrorists attacked the US Capitol, but I found the words of this young poet incredibly powerful and meaningful.

I recently re-read the The Hill We Climb. It’s an uplifting poem. I think it aims to unify the people of the United States: “We lay down our arms / So that we can reach our arms / out to one another.” Such powerful words spoken by a brave, fearless young woman “descendant from slaves” after that awful event on January 6, 2021! There is nothing else I can add that others haven’t already said in a more eloquent manner.

As Oprah Winfrey wrote in the foreword, “As her words washed over us, they healed our wounds and resurrected our spirits.” If you have a few minutes, I’d highly recommend reading the poem or watching Ms. Gorman read it.

Have you read The Hill We Climb?

Have a great weekend! Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

Photo by Eva Elijas on

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae – 1872-1918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

November by Thomas Hood

Autumn in Geneva, Switzerland.

November by Thomas Hood

No sun – no moon! 
No morn – no noon – 
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day – 
No sky – no earthly view – 
No distance looking blue – 
No road – no street – no ‘t’other side the way’ – 
No end to any Row – 
No indications where the Crescents go – 
No top to any steeple – 
No recognitions of familiar people – 
No courtesies for showing ’em – 
No knowing ’em – 
No travelling at all – no locomotion, 
No inkling of the way – no notion – 
‘No go’ – by land or ocean – 
No mail – no post – 
No news from any foreign coast – 
No Park – no Ring – no afternoon gentility – 
No company – no nobility – 
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 
No comfortable feel in any member – 
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, 
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –