Celebrations, Christmas, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas with Henry

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We all long for peace in our perilously divided world.  So did all those who came before us. The Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” is based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Bells” written in 1863.  The American Civil War was raging, without any expectation of ending. That same year, and without his blessing, Henry Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles, became a soldier in the Union army.  Henry Longfellow received the news by letter dated March 14, 1863.  Although Charles achieved lieutenant rank, he was severely wounded a few months later in November. On Christmas Day 1863, Henry Longfellow penned this poignant call for peace.  The poet’s despair is captured in the phrase: “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.” And yet, the bells signal renewed hope that there is indeed the possibility of peace for humanity.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said: “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.”  Perhaps that is the first step towards peace. 

 

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet,

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace of earth, good-will to men!

 

Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

If was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The household born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said:

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

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2 thoughts on “Christmas with Henry

    • Thank you so much, Mary, for stopping by for a visit!!! You comments are so much appreciated. Merry Christmas – all the very best of the season to you and yours. Looking forward to our journey ahead….

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