Tag Archives: Christmas

A Christmas Poem by C.S. Lewis

The Turning of the Tide

Click on the picture for the video.

I mean to post this poem right after Thanksgiving, but I haven’t been attending this blog recently. Sorry.

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Vision of a Man on Christmas Day

The family’s all come over, but I feel it’s quite a crowd,
And everyone is talking and the TV’s on too loud.
I think if I just step outside no one will see me go;
Fresh air will do me good, perhaps, and maybe I’ll see snow.
Alas, no flakes are falling; still I like the chilly air.
And out across the street I see a family gathered there.
Their purpose is quite evident as they begin to sing,
Their carols all proclaiming the arrival of their king.
I watch them go, and smile, taking pleasure in the sight,
But even as they leave I notice something isn’t right:
It seems in all the bustle they forgot to close the door,
And so it stands wide open, letting in the cold (and more).
It would be quite a shame if they were robbed on Christmas Day,
So off I go across the street to close it right away.

But when I reach the doorstep I imagine something strange,
And all the air about me makes a subtle secret change;
But still the change is peaceful, so it comes as no surprise
When suddenly a voice calls out to bid me come inside.
“Come in, and know me better, man,” pronounced a baritone—
A fitting Christmas greeting to invite me in his home.
But whether man or spirit spoke, I yet was unaware,
Although I was determined to discover what was there.

It was a man.  But if you must insist on something more,
I’ll say I felt as if I’d never seen a man before.
He sits upon his chair the way a king sits on a throne,
And in his eyes are mirth and peace that I have never known.
He’s old, but not decrepit—even heedless of his age:
The wrinkles that begin to show do naught to mar his face.
He’s let his beard grow out, transforming him from someone old
To something almost ageless.  On his head’s a crown of gold,
And there upon his shoulders is the mantle of a lord.
But then I blink—and find my normal vision is restored:
The mantle’s just a blanket that was taken from his bed;
The crown is Christmas tinsel someone placed upon his head.
One hand supports his bearded chin (I’d not imagined that!),
The other gently strokes the head that rests upon his lap.
How fair she is who sits upon the floor beside his chair,
And blankets both his legs with her cascading golden hair!
Such beauty as I’ve never seen before in all my life!
I yearn to call the old man father, and the woman, wife.

“Sit,” he says.  I sit—without a thought to find a chair:
I’m seated on the floor before his feet ere I’m aware.
The lady laughs (and so, I think, does he—but not aloud);
I do not mind: before the man I find I can’t be proud.
“Some wine, perhaps?” he offers, and still mute, I nod my head.
His daughter will not let him serve, and serves me in his stead.
She smiles at me sweetly—I’m astonished by her grace,
And awed by the contentment that’s apparent in her face.
“Your wine, my lord,” she speaks, and I rejoice to hear the sound;
Then placing tinsel on my head she smiles, “and your crown.”
I balk at first, imagining she means it as a jest—
Except they wear the crowns as well, and do so in a festive
Kind of mood, as people picking costumes for a feast.
It’s all a bit unreal, and I’m confused to say the least.
My host regards my wonder.  “Know you not that you’re a king?”
He asks.  I shake my head.  “My lord, I’m sure of no such thing,
No greatness lies in me, you must be sure to understand,
For well I know I’m just an imitation of a man.”
He laughs a merry, not-unwelcome laugh.  “And so you are.
And so am I.  But though we both have missed the mark by far,
We celebrate today the birth of Him who draws us near,
Who shares with us the glory that is His.  So do not fear—
Accept the crown, as portent of the things ahead,
And know the King of Kings Himself will one day crown your head.
And we,” he adds with even more excitement in his tone,
“Will cast our crowns upon the glassy sea before His throne.”
I’m silent, contemplating this profession, slightly awed;
For here’s a man who lives before the very throne of God.

How long we talk, I cannot tell, but all of it is sweet;
I never leave my place upon the floor before his feet.
At last his sons return from being out, each with his wife;
They gently tease the daughter he adopted late in life:
“You missed out on the fun,” they start—and then they note their guest
(But I have noted she has chosen what for her is best).
“A merry Christmas to you, sir,” I hear her brother say,
“I’ll set a place for dinner for you if you’d like to stay.”
“A merry Christmas to you all,” I rise and gain my feet,
“But as for dinner, mine’s awaiting me across the street.”
I turn to say goodbye to him who welcomed me inside,
And see that he has risen from his chair to say goodbye.
We clasp our hands together then, but neither of us speak,
And much to my surprise I find I let him kiss my cheek.
Oh, how shall I describe to those at home what I have found?
What shall they think when they espy my silly tinsel crown?
I’m not sure how I’ll answer, but I’ll do the best I can;
I’m sure of the beginning though: I’ll say, “There was a man…”