Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Gilded Christmas

Since this Christmas season in the United States will be a rather Dickensian one for many Americans — particularly the two million or so unemployed whom Congress has recently thrown to the sharks — a card depicting carolers from Charles Dickens’ time seems apropos. In accordance with this theme, I append an unusually introspective seasonal song: Ogden Nash’s “A Carol for Children.”

A Dickensian Christmas

“A Dickensian Christmas”: Where’s the plum pudding got to?
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God rest you merry, Innocents;
Let nothing you dismay.
Let nothing wound an eager heart
Upon this Christmas day.

Yours be the genial holly wreaths,
The stockings and the tree;
An aged world to you bequeaths
Its own forgotten glee.

Soon, soon enough come crueler gifts,
The anger and the tears;
Between you now there sparsely drifts
A handful yet of years.

Oh, dimly, dimly glows the star
Through the electric throng;
The bidding in temple and bazaar
Drowns out the silver song.

The ancient altars smoke afresh;
The ancient idols stir.
Faint in the reek of burning flesh
Sink frankincense and myrrh.

Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchior!
Where are your offerings now?
What greetings to the Prince of War,
His darkly branded brow?

Two ultimate laws alone we know:
The ledger and the sword —
So far away, so long ago,
We lost the infant Lord.

Only the children clasp His hand;
His voice speaks low to them,
And still for them the shining band
Wings over Bethlehem.

God rest you merry, Innocents,
While innocence endures.
A sweeter Christmas than we to ours
May you bequeath to yours.

Together we face a fell winter: dark, dreary, dank and dismal: a winter that many of our fellow citizens will not survive; its end is not in sight. But it cannot endure forever. One day, I am confident that we who are moved by love and not by scorn shall triumph: The idolaters of Mammon shall be cast down; their bleak December shall draw to its end, and spring come anew.

Let us therefore rededicate ourselves with the passing of this chill year: Let us end the age of the Prince of War, and make for ourselves a better law than the ledger and the sword. And let us, finally, bequeath to our posterity a sweeter future than is our present prospect.

Peace, liberty, unity, justice, equality
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