In the Bleak Midwinter — Beauty in Stark Times #PoetryFriday

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.) And Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!

This week, I’m sharing two different things. First up is a pair of wistful haiku, which was our Poetry Princesses prompt this month. (I’m updating this post on my phone, as we lost internet during our Minnesota blizzard yesterday.) I had already made my post below when I realized THIS is the final Friday of the month. Anyway, first up, a haiku inspired by winter trees, which I find beautiful

skeletal branches

only hope and empty nodes

where leaves used to be

The second haiku was inspired by the memory of the unusual stillness and calmness of the first few weeks of lockdown.

in the first few weeks,

the unexpected relief –

empty calendar

Isn’t it strange how life has gotten just as busy (or moreso) even with various restrictions?

Apologies for any wonky formatting. Doing this on a phone stinks! Please visit my friends’ posts, too:






I’m also sharing Christina Rossetti’s beautiful poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter.” I love musical settings of this poem, which has a bleak (of course) title and yet is filled with such beauty. There is ALWAYS beauty. We might find it in nature. In each other. In our hearts. But it’s there.

In the bleak midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, 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 midwinter, 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,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, 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.
Here’s one of my favorite musical versions. (Another favorite is Kate Rusby’s glorious one.)

Enjoy, and have a magical Christmas!

For more beauty, check out the Poetry Friday Roundup with Irene Latham, who always manages to both find and make beauty in the world around her.

16 Responses

  1. Your imagery in that first haiku! Gorgeous. And yes, early on, I treasured my open calendar, too. Even now, I appreciate the “down time” and try to look at it as a chance to go deeper. So happy to be writing poetry all the way to the last Friday of the year with you and all the Poetry Sisters.

  2. In the Bleak Midwinter is one of my favorites. One of the verses your version doesn’t have talks about “a breast full of milk and a mangerful of hay.” I love that emphasis on the humanness of the baby and also the way it reminds me of the supernatural layer. I can’t listen to your videos because they aren’t available here, but I have some versions on my computer that I will listen to! Hope you get power back soon. Have a wonderful day! Ruth,

  3. Oh dear. I hope you have your electricity back! Thank you for these beautiful, timely, wistful gifts.

  4. Oh, I love the poem on the unexpected relief of an empty calendar! For a minute, at first, it was freeing.

    I love In The Bleak Midwinter. I actually got my students to memorize part of that poem by putting it in a puppet show. As Californians they were intrigued by “snow had fallen, snow on snow.” Hope you guys are digging out! Deep peace and Merry day to you.????❄️

    1. Growing up in Florida, I yearned for snow SO much. Thankful for this white Christmas (and your lovely card)!

  5. Thank you for sharing these musical versions. Nice listening for today and to be reminded of this lovely poem!

  6. I like the idea of your second haiku, though I never saw that empty calendar for right away I started learning how to teach online–and from that point on I agree with you 100% “life has gotten just as busy (or moreso)” it sure has for me. Lovely post Laura, Merry Christmas!

    1. My work schedule never lessened, though without the franticness of trying to learn to do my job in a whole new way! It was just the social and community and family in-person gatherings. And even just household errands. Though I love some of the gatherings, the empty calendar also felt full of possibility, you know. Thank you for your Herculean efforts as an educator this year!

  7. Laura, there is so much beauty in this post: your haikus, the songs, Rossetti’s poem is one that is unfamiliar but so appropriate for today. Snow upon snow — ours melted with the rain storm today. Happy Holidays.

  8. I love both your haikus! They both put words to my own thoughts. I love the new buds showing on winter trees, and i was JUST looking back in my notebook and found an entry where I wrote about the suddenly silent world in mid March. Hope your electricity is back!

  9. Hoping you have the electricity back, Laura. It’s Christmas morning ‘after’ & we will be 60 degrees today. The weather of this month has been a roller coaster. I love the idea of those ‘nodes’ as ‘hope’ & started my music morning with your “Bleak Midwinter” songs. Thank you! Here we go into the new year!

  10. Laura! These are beautiful. There is something so, so achey about the first one — the wistfulness of a bare tree — I’ve never pictured it quite like that. Thank you.

  11. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is one of my favorite hymns for Christmas. Thanks for all the different versions you posted. I’m setting a goal right this minute to write a haiku each month for the creation of a calendar for 2022. I’ve been meaning to do this for years and your post reminded me with “empty calendar.” Happy New Year!

  12. Laura, what a joyful post! I love the idea of hope after skeletal branches. I agree winter trees are beautiful especially when they sparkle with snow and ice. Thank you for sharing The Bleak Midwinter, which is beautiful as are the recordings. We had received about 33″ of snow in a short period of time, which we were able to cross-country ski on two times! Unfortunately, the rain melted most of it so we await another snow blanket. Happy New & Healthy Year.

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