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Make the Yuletide Gay

Welcome to The Stonewall Chorale's Winter Concert! We invite you to follow along with our poetry readings.

The Coming of The Cold by Theodore Roethke, read by Emily McSpadden

The ribs of leaves lie in the dust,

The beak of frost has pecked the bough,

The briar bears its thorn, and drought

Has left its ravage on the field.

The season's wreckage lies about,

Late autumn fruit is rotted now.

All shade is lean, the antic branch

Jerks skyward at the touch of wind,

Dense trees no longer hold the light,

The hedge and orchard grove are thinned.

The dank bark dries beneath the sun,

The last of harvesting is done.

 

All things are brought to barn and fold.

The oak leaves strain to be unbound,

The sky turns dark, the year grows old,

The buds draw in before the cold.

 

The small brook dies within its bed;

The stem that holds the bee is prone;

Old hedgerows keep the leaves; the phlox,

That late autumnal bloom, is dead.

 

All summer green is now undone:

The hills are grey, the trees are bare,

The mould upon the branch is dry,

The fields are harsh and bare, the rocks

Gleam sharply on the narrow sight.

The land is desolate, the sun

No longer gilds the scene at noon;

Winds gather in the north and blow

Bleak clouds across the heavy sky,

And frost is marrow-cold, and soon

Winds bring a fine and bitter snow.

Winter Days by Gareth Owen, read by John-Charles Kelly

Biting air
Winds blow
City streets
Under snow

Noses red
Lips sore
Runny eyes
Hands raw

Chimneys smoke
Cars crawl
Piled snow
On garden wall

Slush in gutters
Ice in lanes
Frosty patterns
On window panes

Morning call
Lift up head
Nipped by winter
Stay in bed

 

Safe by James Walker, read by Joyce Weinstein

Come, stir the fire,

The lamps unlit

Leave, while we sit

Close to the glow,

And fire and shadow flit

About the room, and fight

For love of it.

 

Cold winds blow

Whirling in the drear

Night outside; the blaze

Uncoils its tentacles, and here

We in a dream-daze

With the lamps unlit,

Safe in a firelight sit.

 

Snowflakes by Clive Sansom, read by Cecelia Martin

And did you know

That every flake of snow

That forms so high

In the grey winter sky

And falls so far

Is a bright six-pointed star?

Each crystal grows

A flower as perfect as a rose.

Lace could never make

The patterns of a flake.

No brooch

Of figured silver could approach

Its delicate craftsmanship. And think:

Each pattern is distinct.

Of all the snowflakes floating there –

The million million in the air –

None is the same. Each star

Is newly forged, as faces are,

Shaped to its own design

Like yours and mine.

And yet… each one

Melts when its flight is done;

Holds frozen loveliness

A moment, even less;

Suspends itself in time –

And passes like a rhyme.

 

Winter Poem by Nikki Giovanni, read by Kaila Galinat

once a snowflake fell

on my brow and i loved

it so much and i kiss

it and it was happy and called its cousins

and brothers and a web

of snow engulfed me then

i reached to love them all

and i squeezed them and they became

a spring rain and i stood perfectly

still and was a flower

 

Reflections on the Resurgence of Joy by Dori Jeanine Somersm read by Vincent Chiang

How short the daylight hours have now become.
How grey the skies, how barren seem the trees.
A damp and chilling wind has gripped my mind and made me gloomy, too.
But there is that in me which reaches up toward the light and laughter, bells, and carolers,
And knows that my religious myth and dream of reborn joy and goodness must be true,
Because it speaks the truths of older myths;
That light returns to balance darkness, life surges in the evergreen – and us,
As babes are hope, and saviors of the world, as miracles abound in common things.

 

little tree by  e.e. cummings, read by Siobhán Fuller

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

 

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see          i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

 

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

 

look          the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

 

put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

 

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

 

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel”

 

Christmas Light by May Sarton, read by Hazel Brown 

When everyone had gone

I sat in the library

With the small silent tree,

She and I alone.

How softly she shone!

 

And for the first time then

For the first time this year,

I felt reborn again,

I knew love’s presence near.

 

Love distant, love detached

And strangely without weight,

Was with me in the night

When everyone had gone

And the garland of pure light

Stayed on, stayed on.

 

The Barn by Elizabeth Coatsworth, read by Marcella Romano-McSpadden

"I am tired of this barn!'' said the colt,

"And every day it snows.

Outside there's no grass any more

And icicles grow on my nose.

I am tired of hearing the cows

Breathing and talking together.

I am sick of these clucking hens.

I hate stables and winter weather!"

 

"Hush, little colt," said the mare,

"And a story I will tell

Of a barn like this one of ours

And the wonders that there befell.

It was weather much like this

And the beasts stood as we stand now

In the warm good dark of the barn —

A horse and an ass and a cow."

 

"And sheep?" asked the colt. "Yes, sheep

And a pig and a goat and a hen.

All of the beasts of the barnyard

The usual servants of men.

And into their midst came a lady

And she was as cold as death,

But the animals leaned above her

And made her warm with their breath.

 

"There was her baby born

And laid to sleep in the hay

While music flooded the rafters

And the barn was as light as day,

And angels and kings and shepherds

Came to worship the Babe from afar,

But we looked at Him first of all creatures

By the bright strange light of a star!"

 

The Year by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, read by Craig Sabbatino

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.


We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.

 

When I am among the trees by Mary Oliver, read by Erin Clancy

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

 

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem  Dr. Maya Angelou (selections), read by Justine Medina, John Barrow, and Kira Stockdale

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes

And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.

Flood waters await us in our avenues.

 

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche

Over unprotected villages.

The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

 

We question ourselves.

What have we done to so affront nature?

We worry God.

Are you there? Are you there really?

Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

 

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,

Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope

And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.

The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,

Come the way of friendship.

 

It is the Glad Season.

Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.

Flood waters recede into memory.

Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us

As we make our way to higher ground.

 

Hope is born again in the faces of children

It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.

Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,

Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

 

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.

At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.

We listen carefully as it gathers strength.

We hear a sweetness.

The word is Peace.

It is loud now. It is louder.

Louder than the explosion of bombs.

 

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.

It is what we have hungered for.

Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.

A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.

Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

 

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.

We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.

We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.

Peace.

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.

We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,

Implore you, to stay awhile with us.

So we may learn by your shimmering light

How to look beyond complexion and see community.

 

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,

Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.

Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.

Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves

And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

 

Peace, My Brother.

Peace, My Sister.

Peace, My Soul.

Thank you to our Generous Donors*

Charles Abbott, Mark Ammirati, Susan Amster, Nancy Berger, Stephanie Blackwood, Emily Boytinck, Caren Brooks, Eileen Burgess, Theresa Colliton, Virginia Cowen, Stephen and Nola Deutsch, Malachi Dray, Betty Duggan, Stephen Gross, Thomas Harlin, Molly Haskell, Bruce Hill, Chaya Himelfarb, Bonnie Hurwitz, John Kennedy, Nancy Krawiecki, Trent Lethco, Howard Major, Arthur McLean, Mightycause Foundation, Frank Miller, Deborah Mincer, Network for Good, Manuel Ovando, Donna Powell, Joyce Pyle, Debra Reiner, Jeep Ries, Lucy Romano, Verdery Roosevelt, Jennifer Safian, Bonnie Shevins, Howard and Paula Slonim, Marie Louise Stegall, Joyce Weinstein, Elizabeth Wells, Janet Zaleon

*Note: This list reflects those who made a donation to the Chorale between July 1, 2023 and November 30, 2023.

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