The stab to the heart that is such music,
the light beyond brightness that is such sight—
For the sake of this season in the stories
I will cease my wars with God tonight.
I will choose, with open eye, the talking beasts,
the white-in-the-snowdrift Christmas rose,
the legends of wandering a bitter way,
high hill and desert, for what? —God knows.
Someone turned the rose-tree to a cross
and the angels’ thunder into penitential song:
such is the ancient sorrow: they who stole
the stories have the stories wrong.
What saved the old ones in the tangled land,
amid assorted enemies, is what saves still:
to see the white stag in the tangled wood,
the Cross and the Rose on the same snow hill
We are saved in our infuriated hour—
by cunning blackened, by omnipotence beguiled—
by the newborn cosmos crooked upon our arm,
motherly murmuring to him, child, my child.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.