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Nativité, Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Before Dawn

Dim-berried is the mistletoe
With globes of sheenless grey,
The holly mid ten thousand thorns
Smolders its fires away;
And in the manger Jesu sleeps
This Christmas Day.
Bull unto bull with hollow throat
Makes echo every hill,
Cold sheep in pastures thick with snow
The air with bleatings fill;
While of His Mother's heart this Babe
Takes His sweet will.
All flowers and butterflies lie hid,
The blackbird and the thrush
Pipe but a little as they flit
Restless from bush to bush;
Even to the robin Gabriel hath
Cried softly, "Hush!"
Now night is astir with burning stars
In darkness of the snow;
Burdened with frankincense and myrrh
And gold the Strangers go
Into a dusk where one dim lamp
Burns faintly, Lo!
No snowdrop yet its small head nods,
In winds of winter drear;
No lark at casement in the sky
Sings matins shrill and clear;
Yet in this frozen mirk the Dawn
Breathes, Spring is here!

--Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)

Reader Comments (5)

A favorite poet along with a favorite artist. How interesting that Chagall painted this scene!

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen of A2eatwrite

So, Luisa, just how much work has this been for you? Do you have a book wherein all is laid out for you or have you been surfing the net looking for just the right poem with just the right painting?

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

That is a great painting. And I bet this was a ton of work.

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Wright

Heidi, I have done all the work for this myself. It was great fun to search for the right things to go together! Thanks for asking.

December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa Perkins

I have never seen that Chagall before, and I love it!

I also love the idea of spring (and new life) born in the quiet deadness of winter. John Rutter's "What Sweeter Music" hints at this idea. He suggests that the newness and beauty of Christ turns December into May. I love it.

December 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

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