Friday, December 24, 2010

Tree of Light 2010

A small Christmas tree this year, on a table in the living room, with the fireplace in the background. I put mostly star ornaments, and musical instrument ornaments on it, this year. I have a terrific collection of very detailed musical instrument ornaments, that look completely real and playable, only in miniature. I really enjoyed getting these out this year, as it has been a good year for me musically, and next year promises to be even more so—so the musical ornaments are on the tree by way of celebration.

What I love about Christmas trees are the lights, at night. Lighting up the darkest time of the year, setting the night aglow. Of course that's the original pagan purpose of the tannenbaum, or tree of lights: a winter solstice celebration of the returning of the light. From now on, the days get gradually longer, even though winter itself as a season has just begun.

The light in the darkness also makes me think of a poem I wrote two winter solstices ago, a poem that's been on my mind lately, which one or two poet-friends liked very much at the time, and which otherwise went unregarded: Evangelismos. It's a poem of annunciation. I could not get out of my mind Rilke's phrase "Every angel is terrifying," and what it must be like to be spoken to by an angel in its glory: which I imagined as a continuous explosion of light and sound, overwhelming and overpowering. I wrote from the point of view of the shepherds in the hills, being herded themselves by the angel, down into town, to witness a miracle.

I always like to put a few Christmas books under the tree, mixed in with the presents. Appropriate titles, such as Dickens, here, and Clement Moore's famous poem. I have a friend who decorates his entire house for the season with thousands of ornaments, garlands, and decorations. He also places a lot of classic Christmas books under the tree; it's always fun to pick one up and thumb through it. The books I usually put under my small tree here all Peter Pauper Press editions, which I have collected for many years; I particularly like their older books, many out of print now, from the 1940s through the 1960s, which are often beautifully typeset and simply yet elegantly decorated with woodcut illustrations. For example, I have a very nice PPP edition from 1965, with illustrations, of John Greenleaf Whitter's poem Snowbound.

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Some humongous ornaments on that tree, Art. I have to say I'd never have though of putting anything under the tree other than that year's pressies. The only change we had this year was a lace ornament because it's our lace anniversary this year - Carrie got that. We used to add one new ornament each year but since neither of us has been going out much of late that tradition's kinda fallen by the wayside.

Hope you have a good time, Art, and no doubt we'll talk again shortly. It's nearly lunchtime here and then it's an afternoon in front of the TV for me.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks to you both, and hope you had a Happy Christmas.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Gwilym Williams said...

Hello Art,
This year we had more of a twig in a pot than a tree. Nevertheless it was still the real thing. What happens to the old tree? Here, in Vienna they feed quite a few of them to the elephants at the zoo and the rest the grind into garden compost which you can buy for free!
All the best for 2011.
Heard alarming news about blizzard on East Coast, states of emergency etc. Hope you're OK in midwest.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi Gwilym, and thanks. So you had a "Charlie Brown Christmas tree," is sounds like. I like the idea of recycling trees that you mention; very good to do things like that.

No worries about the snow here. We had snow on Xmas Eve, which made everything very, very pretty, but just a few inches, nothing like a blizzard. They predict that for later this week, though.

1:03 PM  

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