Love Was with Me in the Night

Gentile da Fabriano, “Nativity” (1423)

Christmas Day

My dear friends Dana Greene and Richard Roesel alerted me to this May Sarton Christmas poem. I particularly like the fact that it is set within the family library.

Christmas Light

By May Sarton

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 garland of pure light reminds me of Henry Vaughan’s opening lines in “The World” except that Sarton’s poem is quieter:

I saw Eternity the other night, 
Like a great ring of pure and endless light, 
All calm, as it was bright…

There is also a George Herbert simplicity to some of the lines—“I knew love’s presence near,” for instance—although the poem lacks Herbert’s agonized struggle (and Vaughan’s as well). For Sarton, love’s visitation arrives without fuss or fanfare.

Think of it as a Christmas prayer.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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