It is 2:34am on Christmas morning: a mince pie has been eaten, a carrot gnawed, and presents piled around a tree in a now familiar ritual albeit in a still relatively novel setting. For a number of years part of that ritual was sending a Christmas message to my students once those fantastic domestic duties were done. Last year, for the first time since 1992, I had no students to write for. Now, at my second Christmas since moving to Wales I have plenty of students, but spread in sometimes isolated hours across a range of subjects, and some of whom I only met recently after picking up some maternity cover.

This fragmented and rather fragile work situation reflects the (not unpleasant) dislocation I still feel after living and working in the same place (which never felt entirely like home) for around two decades, and which, in turn reflects the uncertain wonder with which I reflect on the past, and look to the future.

Fragmented, bewildered, astonished wonder was something felt, I imagine, by the protagonists and extras in the original Christmas drama. One of my favourite poets, e e cummings, seems to have known something about that, and I was grateful for being reminded of the poetic product of that knowing a couple of days ago online by a cherished colleague and friend whom I’ve never met in person. But not meeting someone in person needn’t preclude having a relationship with them. And so, I share with you, students, ex-students, and accidental onlookers, cummings’s Christmas sonnet:

from spiralling ecstatically this

proud nowhere of earth’s most prodigious night
blossoms a newborn babe: around him, eyes
—gifted with every keener appetite
than mere unmiracle can quite appease—
humbly in their imagined bodies kneel
(over time space doom dream while floats the whole

perhapsless mystery of paradise)

mind without soul may blast some universe
to might have been, and stop ten thousand stars
but not one heartbeat of this child; nor shall
even prevail a million questionings
against the silence of his mother’s smile

—whose only secret all creation sings

Happy Christmas!

(and may you spiral ecstatically into 2016


5 Responses to “spiralling ecstatically”
  1. Rosalind says:

    Lovely Christmas message, Anthony, which I read far too late!

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