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.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Befana the Housewife

Befana the Housewife, scrubbing her pane,
Saw three old sages ride down the lane,
Saw three gray travelers pass her door-
Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchior.

"Where journey you, sirs?" she asked of them.
Balthazar answered, "To Bethlehem,
For we have news of a marvelous thing
Born in a stable is Christ the King."

"Give Him my welcome!"

Then Gaspar smiled,
"Come with us, mistress, to greet the Child."

"Oh, happily, happily would I fare,
Were my dusting through and I'd polished the stair."

Old Melchior leaned on his saddle horn. 
"Then send but a gift to the small Newborn."

"Oh, gladly, gladly I'd send Him one,
I'll fetch Him a pillow for His head,
And a coverlet too," Befana said.
 "When the rooms are aired and the linen dry,
I'll look at the Babe."
But the Three rode by.

She worked for a day and a night and a day,
Then, gifts in her hands, took up her way.
But she never could find where the Christ Child lay.

And still she wanders at Christmastide,
Houseless, whose house was all her pride,

Whose heart was tardy, whose gifts were late,
Wanders, and knocks at every gate,

Crying, "Good people, the bells begin!
Put off your toiling and let love in!"

~~Phyllis McGinley

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Legend From Russia

Today is the anniversary of Caeli's First Holy Communion--the greatest gift of all!
Happy Epiphany!

A Legend From Russia

Babushka, the Grandmother, snug in her room
Sat nodding and nodding over her loom,

Sat suppered and snug with no desire
But a welcoming bed and an ample fire

When out of the winter’s rush and roar
Came shepherds knocking upon her door,

“Grandmother, Grandmother, old and wise,
In Bethlehem’s barn a princeling lies;

“Lies Mother and Child where oxen feed.
Hurry, Babushka, to nurse their need.”

Babushka listened, but made no stir.
She thought of the sheets turned down for her,

Of shutters latched and the larder dressed
And her bones that ached for rest.

“Tomorrow,” she muttered. “Wait till then.”
But sternly the shepherds knocked again.

“Grandmother, Grandmother, rich and skilled,
Then send but a kindly basket filled

“With comforting gifts, with meat or bread,
And we will carry it in your stead.”

Babushka listened, nodding anew.
“Tomorrow,” she murmured, “Tomorrow will do.

“I’ll bring the best from my cupboard’s store,
The shepherds knocked no more.

Babushka slept though her dreams were troubled.
At dawn while the porridge bubbled,

She packed a basket brimming with sweet
Loaves and oranges, cakes and meat,

A shawl for the Lady, soft as June,
For the Child in the Crib a silver spoon,

Rattles and toys an ivory game,
But the Stable was empty when she came.

So now with provender weighted down
She wanders the world from town to town

At Christmas time, though the winds are shrill,
Through brier and brush, over heath and hill,
Seeking the Manger still.

And wheresoever a good child sleeps,
Dreaming of day, Babushka creeps

Silently, hopefully, up the stair
And leaves three gifts from her basket there—

One to marvel at, one to enjoy,
And one for the kingly Boy.

Crochet an Babushka for your Own Wreath of Christmas Legends! You can change the colors to make her look Russian.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why The Owl Wakes At Night

Poor Owl! We have an owl in our woods and every once in a while I hear him calling, "Who? Who?" This one reminds me never to be lazy or procrastinate--a good one to start the new year off with.

Why the Owl Wakes at Night

The owl that hunts
A shadowy prey
Loved morning, once,
And honest day

Like his sun-striding
Till Wise Men riding
Through a wood

To bear the Word
Of Bethlehem,
Summoned each bird
To follow them

“You, feathery nations,
Quick, take wing.
Come greet Creation’s
Newborn King.”

From sleep, like arrows,
All arose—
Doves, linnets, sparrows,
Cackling crows.

Faithfully through
The holy dark
The heron flew,
Flew the meadowlark,

Chanting in wild
Ecstatic chorus,
“A kingly Child
Is waiting for us.”

Fled every fowl,
Forsaking rest.
Only the owl
On his warm nest,

Grudging to see
Finch pass, and swallow,
Croaked, “Who is He
That bids me follow?

“Who? Who?” he muttered,
Loath to fly.
“Who, who?” and shuttered
His round eye,

Nor left his bough
Nor way the glory.
And penitent now
(So runs the story),

Nightly must mourn,
“Who’ll guide me to
The small Newborn?
Who, who? Oh, who?”

Must for distress
Stay broad awake
And comfortless,
That would not break
His comfort for Love’s sake.

Crochet an Owl for your Own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Legend of the Cat

This one may give our cat-hating husbands "paws"! Naaaaah, probably not.

The Legend of the Cat

At midnight’s stroke,
On the first Christmas, half the world awoke.
Then out of the nest and lair
Came thronging to Bethlehem the wordless folk;
Hurried the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air,
To pay the Lord their homage and His due.

And Cat came, too.
Minding on delicate feet to see the Child,
But being shy and wild,
Approached no nearer than the hearth; lay dumb
And distant there.
While the rest knelt in praise,
The Cat by too much glory overcome
Could not withdraw her gaze
From the Nativity; could only stare
Through slitted eyes as things of fur and feather
(The deer beside the lion, the pheasant, the hare
Safe in the fox’s paws) bent down together.
Although their anthems lifted all around,
She, in her throat, made only a trembling sound
And could not bow her head.

Yet as the morning dawned
And one by one the other creatures fled
Each to his habitat—
The eagle to his crag and to his pond
The otter—only Cat
Remained beside the dying fire, unable
To quit the place that was both Crib and Stable.

Then Mary spoke aloud.
“Dear Cat,” she said, “dear, stiff-necked, proud
And obstinate beast, I bless you. From this hour
Leave wilderness behind you.
Because you stayed, though none shall have the power
To call you servant, yet the hearth shall bind you
Forever to itself. Both fond and free,
Wherever Man is, you shall also be.
And many a family
Will smile to hear you singing (where you settle)
Household hosannahs like a pulsing kettle.”

Some winter night
Observe Cat now. Her eyes will suddenly gleam
Yellow against the light,
Her body shudder in a jungle dream,
Her claws unsheathe their sharpness. She remembers
Old times, old barbarous customs, old Decembers
Before she called the tribes of Man her friends.
But the dream ends.
Then, reassured, she curls herself along
The floor and hums her cool, domestic song.

Crochet a Cat for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Ballad of the Robin

This one's my favorite!

Ballad of the Robin

Long ago, long ago,
When the times were stranger,
Once a Lady and her Son
Rested in a manger,

In a manger on the straw.
The night was shrewd, the wind was raw,

And the dull fire, untended, kept
No comfort where the Infant slept.

Then she, too spent to mend its spark,
Spoke to the beast-enfolding dar,.

“Oxen, lest He should come to harm,
Rise up and blow these embers warm

“With your great breath, for mercy’s sake.”
But the rapt oxen did not wake.

“Ass, will you breathe upon the flame?”
But the ass, dozed nor heard his name,

While heavy the cart horse dreamed beside
His feeding box that Christmastide.

Then suddenly the midnight stirred,
In from the winter at her word
There flew a brown, South-seeking bird.

Bravest of all created things,
He made a bellows of his wings.

He puffed his feathers to a fan,
Singing, until the ash began

To kindle, glow, to burn its best.
The flame leaped out. It seared his breast,

But still the robin, loud with praise,
Beat his quick wings before the blaze

So all the stable was beguiled
To warmth. And softly slept the Child.

“Kind Robin,” then the Lady said,
“Wear from now on a breast of red.

“Where the fire was, let fire remain,
A blessed and perpetual stain

“Burnt on your heart that all may see
The signature of Charity.”

Long ago, long ago,
When the times were stranger,
Once a robin served the Lord
Who rested in a manger.

Crochet a Robin for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Ballad of the Nightingale

Listen to the nightingale's song! How lovely is the chorus of God's creation, singing lullabies to the baby King. Who needs modern technology!?

Ballad of the Nightingale

Hark! when on hill and dale
Hang the night-hushes,
Then sings the nightingale,
Sole among thrushes.

Sole among thrushes, she
Pours out of shadow
Torrents of melody
Over the meadow.

While lesser birds devote
Nighttimes to slumber
Ravishing from her throat
Note after joyful note
Flows without number.

Why does she shun the day
For dark and danger?
There was a Child that lay
Cold in a manger,

Cold in His narrow bed,
Wakeful and chilling.
Him once she comforted
With her sweet trilling;

Sad that a babe should lie
So undefended,
Sang Him a lullaby
Till the night ended,

Sang like a Seraphim.
Then spoke His mother,
“You brought your song to Him,
All the night long to Him,
You and no other.

“Lone on your leafy bough,
Brave though imperiled,
You shall forever now
Be the moon’s herald.”

When over hill and dale
Fall the night-hushes,
Then sings the nightingale
Queen among thrushes.

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

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Legend of the Holly

Happy New Year!

The Legend of the Holly

The holly berry that burns so red
(Raise high the holly!)
Once was whiter than wheaten bread
(As love is better than folly.)

Whiter than shells along the shore
It blooms on its tree by a stable door.

Villagers come there, half-afraid,
Gifts in their hands for Child and Maid.

And one has nothing of note, so he
Fetches a branch of the holly tree.

Alas, alas, the little Newborn
Has pricked His finger upon a thorn,

Has left His blood on the spiny leaves.
Heavy of heart the holly grieves,

Sees in a terrible vision how
A crown of holly shall bind His brow
When Child is man.

For sorrow and shame
The berries have blushed as red as flame,
Says Mary the Mother,
“Take no blame.

“But be of good cheer as ever you can.
Both foul and fair are the works of man,

‘Yet unto man has My Son been lent.
And you, dear tree, are the innocent

“Who weeps for pity what man might do.
So all your thorns are forgiven you.”

Now red, rejoicing, the berries shine
On jubilant doors as a Christmas sign

That desolation to joy makes way.
(Hang high the holly!)
Holly is the symbol of Christ’s Birthday.
(When love shall vanquish folly).

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