William Blake, 'The Nativity' (c. 1790-1800).

This Christmas Sunday, recognizing the need for respite and reflection, we’ll let our poem of the week stand without introduction.  A brief celebration of what surrounds it is offered later in this entry.  May you be merry, may you find peace for yourself and in what you do for others.  May we all redefine ourselves in accordance with the world’s needs.

 

 

 

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity, a human face:

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every one of every clime,

That prays in deep distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In everyone anew.

Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell,

There God is dwelling too.

 

 

(William Blake, 1757 – 1827)

From Songs of Innocence and Experience

 

We do not often print poems from men, but it is fair to say when one reads or sees the poems of William Blake, one almost always meets the presence of his wife, Catherine, as well.  Their partnership was so singular that by now it is hard to separate the fact from fiction, much the same as the way humans have embellished the story of why we observe this day.

We think Catherine fell in love with William at first sight.  We know she signed her marriage certificate with an X.  It is probable that William taught her to read and write and engrave.  It is certain that through poverty and despair, she was a source of strength and faith.  The story goes that they considered one another angels.  Who are we to dispute that possibility, particularly on December 25?

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