A Newtown Carol by Mary Susan Gast (Dec. 22, 2012)
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be consoled,
Because they are no more.”
Because they are no more.
Six-year-old fireballs of joy and energy,
Seven-year-old wits and adventurers,
Filling the havens of home life with wonder,
Filling our arms with warm wriggly love,
Rachel our mother, all mothers, all fathers,
All families, all friends,
How can they be consoled?
The sisters, the brothers, of those who were in
That brutal line of fire,
How can they loose their bonds of chest-heavy pain?
“Oh sisters two how may we do
To preserve this day the poor Youngling
Of whom we sing?
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.”
Thou little tiny child,
”Whose time on earth
Came to completion,
If not fulfillment,
Abruptly as a sweet melody
By the banshee shriek
Whip-cracking through the harmony of community.
Will only edge its way
Into the hearts of those who mourn,
As the balm of memory fills up
The craters of grief,
As the aloe of thanksgiving
For the grace of those too-short lives,
Anoints the raw wounds of violent loss.
Lulle, lullay, thou little tiny children,
Never to be replicated gifts,
Never to be forgotten
Now that you’ve read the poem, here is a commentary by Benicia Patch Poetry Maestro Jeff Burkhart:
On January 6 many Christian churches read the Gospel account of the visitors from the East who brought gifts to the Christ child. Not so often read are the passages immediately following, where King Herod, fearing the threat that Jesus might pose, orders the slaughter of children in Bethlehem. Although we often hear the Coventry Carol as music for Christmas, it actually is a song of mourning for those murdered children. Following the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Coventry Carol and the words of the prophet Jeremiah cited in the Gospel of Matthew carry enormous contemporary meaning.
The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has generated a wave of conversation about the politics of the second Amendment to the Constitution. Let it be. Forget all the reactions and sit with the sadness for a moment. Let's not worry about making laws to try and prevent this from happening again. Let's not argue and fight for our rights to own particular weapons. Let's join with the parents of these children and people everywhere and feel the pain of an act of violence so vile as to bring our country to its knees. Our children are killing our children.
Until next week,
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