Sir John and the Knights of the Long Table

Eleven of us live here at beautiful Schamelot, and we have a small 20 acre farm of chickens, emus, two dogs, 13 or so cats and a cockateil named Sassafrass.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Night

Be of good cheer!

The Night

On the night that Christ was born
The rivers, one hears, ran fine
And sweetly between their banks,
Filled not with water but wine.

And any man who drank
Of that beneficent tide
(Though he had stooped in anger
To drink), grew pacified,
Loving even his foeman
As dearly as his bride;
Wholly at peace with himself,
The world and everything.

While the trees in the forest blossomed
As if the winter were spring.

Crochet a Bunch of Grapes for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

The Canticle of the Bees

I thought it appropriate to read this poem on the Feast of the Holy Family (I should have posted it yesterday), since it is also appropriate to eat milk and honey on this feast. This is a beautiful poem! May we hear the bees and all see God one day.

The Canticle of the Bees

Bees in winter
Weather keep,
Rapt, a garden-haunted

Dream of summer,
Still as stone,
Save on Christmas Eve,

When that honey-havened
Roused by bells
From every steeple,

Wake and sing
With one accord
To the Lord.

“Praise Him,”
Sing the choiring bees,
“Lord of limes
And locust trees,

“Him Who has
Dominion over
Fields of amaranthine

“By Whose providence
We fare
Daily through
The throbbing air

“And return
In drowsy flight
From the pastures
Of delight,

“From the many-petaled
When the shadows close.”
So, at least,
The legend goes.

Visit them
When bells arrive.
Cup your ear
Against the hive.

You may hear them
Singing thus,
But multitudinous:

Lord of all
Things that flutter,
Fly or crawl,

“Now Your Star
Has shone again,
Bless Your swarming Bees.

Wondering, walk there.
Do not fear them.
But remember
As you near them,
Only the pure in heart
Shall hear them.

Crochet a Bumble Bee for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ballad of the Rosemary

Rosemary has always been one of my favorite herbs and now I know why! And tiny baby clean smell is one of the most intoxicating fragrances on earth. I LOVE this poem! Hope you do too,

Ballad of the Rosemary

Rosemary, lily, lilac tree,
Kind in the dooryards thrive all three,
But the kindest of them is rosemary.

When Mary rode to Egypt
Who bore the Christmas King,
Flowers along the wayside
Began their blossoming.

To fill His path with fragrances
The lilac lifted up
Her proud and plumy branches,
The lily spread her cup,

And only the green rosemary,
Born petal-less and mild,
Grieved that it owned no benison
Of sweetness for the Child.

The evening fell in perfume,
In perfume rose the day.
Said Mary, “Out of weariness
We’ll make a moment’s stay.

“Beside this running river,
Here where the willows lean,
I’ll set the Baby sleeping
And wash His garments clean.”

But when the clothes were wholesome,
Where could she hand them all?
“The lily breaks beneath them,
The lilac stands too tall.”

So on the trembling rosemary
She laid them one by one,
And strong the rosemary held them
All morning to the sun.

“I thank you, gentle Rosemary.
Henceforward you shall bear
Blue clusters for remembrance
Of this blue cloak I wear;

“And not your blossoms only,
I give you as reward,
But where His raiment clung to you
Which clad the little Lord,

“All shall be aromatic,”
Said Mary, “for I bless
Leaf, stem, and flower
That from this hour
Shall smell of holiness.”

Rosemary, lily lilac tree.
Sweet in the doorways thrive all three,
But sweetest of them is Rosemary.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Pine Tree

We tried in vain to find a cross-section of a pine cone that bore "the imprint." I wonder if it has to be a certain genus of pine. No matter, the poem is still a beautiful reminder of that creative power of the Infant God.

The Pine Tree

The pine was mortal, once, like other trees
That lift their boughs in air;
Wearing in summer its green fripperies,
In winter going bare
And desolate of birds.
But that was in an old, forgotten age
Before the words
Of Wise Men stung King Herod to such rage
That his loud armies went
About the land to slay the Innocent.

Then there was consternation and no joy
In Israel. Joseph and Mary, flying
Into another country with the Boy
Came when the day was dying,
Houseless to the edge of a green wood
Where valorously stood
A needled pine that every summer gave
Small birds a nest.
And half its trunk was hollow as a cave.
Said Joseph, “This is shelter. Let us rest.”

The pine tree, full of pity, dropped its vast
Protective branches down
To cover them until the troops rode past,
Their weapons jingling, toward a different town.

All night it hid them
When the morning broke,
The Child awoke
And blessed the pine, his steadfast lodging place.
“Let you (and your brave race)
Who make yourself My rampart and My screen
Keep summer always and be ever green.
For you the punctual seasons shall not vary,
But let there throng
A thousand birds to you for sanctuary
All winter long.”

The story tells us, too,
That if you cut a pine cone part way through,
You find it bears within it like a brand
The imprint of His hand.

Crochet a Pine Cone for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Stars' Story

This explains why we go to so much trouble over decorating these Christmas trees. It took John 6 hours to get our pre-lit fully operational!

The Star’s Story

When the great Star shone
From its mighty station
So shepherds, tranced,
Knelt down in the dew,
It was not alone
In its jubilation.
The little stars danced
By the thousands, too.

They danced on high
In that peerless hour,
Till giddy with praising
The Christchild’s birth
They reeled from the sky
And fell in a shower,
Burning and blazing,
Down to earth—

Slid in astonished
(But leaning to listen
Along the way)
To lodge in a burnished
Pine tree’s branches
Where still they glisten
To this very day.

For if you believe
What pale and shaken
Travelers tell,
On Christmas Eve
Those little stars waken
As bright and burning
As when they fell.

Look out of the West
When the year’s unwinding.
Perhaps they will dance
And you may see
A pine that is dressed
In light so blinding
It dazzles the glance.
And that will be
The world’s first, merriest
Christmas tree.

Crochet a Star for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! You can add a picture of the baby Jesus, or crochet two backs and omit the picture.

The Stork

I should have posted this yesterday, but we got busy rearranging furniture!

The Stork

When Christ was born on Christmas Day
The birds and the beasts knelt down to pray.

In wonder all,
Adoring, kneeled—
The ox in his stall,
The fox in the field,

While badger and bear and each wild thing
Flocked round the manger where slept a King
Housed in a stable at Bethlehem.
And the long-legged stork was there with them,

Her feathers white,
Her crest held high,
And awe in her bright
Compassionate eye.

“Alas,” she mourned, “how poor His bed
Who rules the universe overhead!
“Though cozily curled
Sleep all my breed,
The Lord of the World
Lies hard, indeed.

“Unpillowed is He who should wear a crown.”
Then out of her bosom she plucked the down.

The plumes from her breast
She tugged and tore
That the Child should rest
Like a beggar no more

But fine on a pallet fit for a prince.
And blest has the stork been, ever since—

For the gift she gave of her body’s wear,
Blest on chimneys, blest in the air,
And patron of babies

Crochet a Stork for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! Just change the colors.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An Irish Legend and The Birthday

Both these legends "happened" to us. John's grandmother died one Christmas morning when Rachel was only three. Rachel was very close to Gramma, and we didn't want to spoil her Christmas by telling her right away that Gramma had died. We actually decided to put it off for at least a week (we were living in Okinawa and it really wasn't pressing). Before the octave was up, Rachel told us that she'd dreamed that Gramma was in jail and the "jaws" were going to eat her, but Rachel took the key and set her free. Think what you wish, but we believe Rachel saved Gramma with the prayers she had so piously been saying everyday for her.

The second legend involves Cæli. When she was very young, before I had even read this poem, she insisted that she had been to heaven one evening with the angels--for a party! No one familiar with the legend could look into her blue eyes and doubt that it's absolutely true!

Merry Christmas,

An Irish Legend

Whoever’s born on Christmas
Is favored from the start;
Has laughter and good fortune
And a contented heart;
Is loved by noble company,
Has all that should suffice.

But he that dies on Christmas
Goes strait to paradise.

Crochet a Shamrock for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! Crochet two together for a stuffed Shamrock.

The Birthday

One Christmas Eve, some say,
Tall angels chosen for their sweet address
And reassuring aspect, take their way
To earth. There in all gentleness
They lift on either arm
A few most fortunate children sleeping warm
In their December nurseries, kiss them twice,
And bear them off to visit Paradise.

It is the Christ Child’s Birthday and the East
Is lit by a bright star. These children come
As playmates for Him, keepers of His feast.
They bring with them such pandemonium,
Such singing and such laughter
That Heaven shakes to its remotest rafter.

Along the tasseled floors
They drive their rainbow hoops like charioteers.
They toss gold balls; make kites of meteors;
Listen with Him to the melodious spheres
Chanting in chorus; climb the unfading trees
Of that celestial weather;
Reach forth to touch the spinning galaxies;
Then all together,
Bidding their Host affectionate goodnight,
Blow out the stars like candles where they burn,
And drowsily return
(Nodding upon soft pinions in the flight)
To their accustomed beds.

Yet when they seek
To tell that journey and the Birthday games,
They falter in the tale. They cannot speak
Such wonders by their names,
So presently fall silent. Parents, shaking
Incredulous heads can only shrug and smile,
Saying, “They dreamed a dream who now are waking.
They will remember nothing after while.”
But they are wrong. That child whom Christmas captures
Grows beautiful and wise,
Possessor all his days of arts and raptures
And heaven-dazzled eyes.

Crochet an Angel for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Story for an Educated Child

This is a medieval legend from a book of poems that I LOVE! I usually send them out by e-mail every year. This year I decided to just post them on the blog. There are 15 of them, so I'm starting today, Christmas Eve, and we'll end on Epiphany (I'll post two tomorrow!). I've been wanting to make a little "ornament" for each legend and affix it to a wreath to make our own "Wreath of Christmas Legends." Maybe one of these years. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
This one got Caeli so excited she told the check out boy at the grocery store that she was going to Midnight Mass and at midnight she and McGregor were going to sneak out into the barn and listen to the animals talk in Latin. Poor guy stood in flabbergasted astonishment as she rattled on. He had no earthly idea what to make of it all and only said, "Well, enjoy your service," as they parted. John was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. Children do make Christmas!

Story for an Educated Child

It used to be, when the world was young,
Animals spoke a Christian tongue,
Articulating clearly.
And still do those of peaceable bent
Practice the kind of accomplishment
On Christmas evening, yearly.

With human wit, in a human voice,
The beasts of the barnyard all rejoice
From Vespertime to Matin,
Recounting tales of the little God
Over and over. But isn’t is odd?
The speech they speak is Latin.

The strident Cock lifts up his crest,
Stuttering, “Christus natus est!”
Till midnight splits asunder.
Laborious from his stable box,
“Ubi? Ubi?” lows the Ox,
Bemused with sleep and wonder.

The somnolent Sheep, adrift from dreams,
Bleats “Bethlehem!” and her quaver seems
Half question and half promise.
Then Ass that wears by an old decree
A cross on his back for prophecy,
Brays forth his laud “Eãmus!”

And there they gossip while night grows gray
And curious stars have slipped away
From shimmering thrones they sat in.
So many a child might brave the cold
To hear them talking. But I am told
He mustn’t be more than six years old.
And who at six knows Latin?

Christus natus est! Christ is born!
Ubi? Where?
Bethlehem! Bethlehem!
Eãmus! Let us go!

Croche a Rooster for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!