The HyperTexts

The Best Christmas Poems Ever

The following are the best Christmas poems of all time, in my opinion. I have also included some "darker" and more heretical Christmas poems toward the bottom of the page, for readers who don't mind a little variety. The first poem reminds me of Tiny Tim and his request that "God bless us, every one!"

compiled by Michael R. Burch



Traditional

Christmas is coming, the the goose is getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!



Cradle Hymn
by Martin Luther

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay—
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.



It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
by E. H. Sears

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.



How the Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel)

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot …
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small ...



A Child’s Christmas Prayer of Despair for a Hindu Saint
by Michael R. Burch

Santa Claus,
for Christmas, please,
don’t bring me toys, or games, or candy . . .
just . . . Santa, please,
I’m on my knees! . . .
don’t let Christ torture Gandhi!



Ring Out, Wild Bells
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.



Christmas Bells
by 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 on 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!

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!’



Minstrels
by William Wordsworth

The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.

And who but listened?—till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim,
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And "Merry Christmas" wished to all.



Christmas Past
by Carice Williams

Each Christmas I remember
The ones of long ago;
I see our mantelpiece adorned
With stockings in a row.

Each Christmas finds me dreaming
Of days that used to be,
When we hid presents here and there,
For all the family.

Each Christmas I remember
The fragrance in the air,
Of roasting turkey and mince pies
And cookies everywhere.

Each Christmas finds me longing
For Christmases now past,
And I am back in childhood
As long as memories last.



Mistletoe a Christmas
by Walter de la Mare

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.



A Christmas Carol
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
   Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
   Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
   Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
   Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
   Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
   When He comes to reign:
In the bleak midwinter
   A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
   Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
   Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
   And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
   Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
   Which adore.

Angels and archangels
   May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
   Thronged the air;
But only His mother
   In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
   With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
   Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
   I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
   I would do my part,—
Yet what I can I give Him,
   Give my heart.



Christmas Carol
by Sara Teasdale

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.



An untitled poem from the novel The Four Men
by Hilaire Belloc

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me.
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!



A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”



An untitled poem from the novel The Four Men
by Hilaire Belloc

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me.
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!



What Would Santa Claus Say
by Michael R. Burch

What would Santa Claus say,
I wonder,
about Jesus returning
to kill and plunder?

For he'll likely return
on Christmas Day
to blow the bad
little boys away!

When He flashes like lightning
across the skies
and many a homosexual
dies,

when the harlots and heretics
are ripped asunder,
what will the Easter Bunny think,
I wonder?



A Little Bell
by Ann Drysdale

A little bell, a little golden bell
A little golden Christmas-looking bell
With Santa on his sleigh, waving goodwill
While six wild reindeer rear into the sky
Making a cunning little handle.

If you take it between finger and thumb
And give it the teeniest shake, it tinkles
Like babies' laughter. Such a pretty thing
And it is all for you. Nurse gave it to you
To keep for as long as you need it.

Nurse gave the bell to you because last night
You had a paroxysm of vomiting
That made green curtains run down all four walls
And rang the "help me" bell and no-one came
Because the bell was broken.

So you cried out at the top of your voice
Begging for someone, anyone, to come;
But cries of distress on the ward at night
Are constant and for the most part ignored.
You lay ill and afraid alone.

Today I asked if something could be done
And they brought you the little golden bell.
I went back home and fetched a sleeping bag.
I will be here tonight and every night.
Because I don't believe in Santa Claus.



I—Easter Hymn
by A. E. Housman

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.



In God We Trust
by T. Merrill

Absolve yourselves, believe them saved,
Whom hungrily you brought to fare
As chance decrees, and leave to them
The fortune to which you rose heir.
Now theirs shall be the kingdom too,
This one and that, and all they hold,
All marvels present, and as well
Fresh wonders when the flesh turns cold.

All you who by blind pulse renew
The primal blessing cast in heat,
And to a season's course entrust
Frail issue weather can defeat,
Who from flung seed grew anxious too—
Deny earth feeds on them and you.



Nuns, Skating
by Ann Drysdale

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room
Because their spirits can escape beyond
The place that holds them in respectful gloom
To seek the Lord beside the frozen pond.
There He will make their laughter into bells
And turn their breath to incense. He will show
Shadows of magi on the distant hills
And flights of angels shining in the snow.
He will make rushes sing and grasses dance
To the intrusive music of their chatter,
Whispering in their ears that, just this once,
They too can walk as He did, on the water.
Oh, may the year to come be full of these
Small serendipitous epiphanies.



Willy Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life's a pickle, dilly.
Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you'll not act illy.
Isn't it silly, Willy Nilly?br>


The Garden Of Love
by William Blake

I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Weeping, weeping.

Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.



The Corporate Christmas Carol
by Joseph S. Salemi

God rest ye merry businessmen,
Start markups on your trash!
Remember that this holiday
Is when you rake in cash!
It saves you from those creditors
You owe from that last crash…

            Oh, tidings of bottom-lines grown fat, ever so fat!
            Oh, tidings of bottom-lines grown fat!

From commerce wonks in Washington
There comes this press release:
“Just keep the boobs in spending-mode
So cash flow doesn't cease!
A Christmas without splurging means
That profits won't increase…”

             Oh, tidings of credit lines gone wild, ever so wild!
             Oh, tidings of credit lines gone wild!

The euro's going down the tubes;
The E.U. too, en masse
We owe some fifteen trillion bucks
That we don't have, alas!
If China calls our paper debt,
We might as well take gas…

             Oh, tidings of bankruptcy and loss, ever such loss!
             Oh, tidings of bankruptcy and loss!

That's why we need this frenzied rush
Of buying gone berserk!
At Christmas you must drum into
The head of every jerk
That he should spend and spend and spend
To keep us all in work…

             Oh, tidings of avarice unrestrained, unrestrained!
             Oh, tidings of avarice unrestrained!

The HyperTexts