Poem for a Tuesday — “In the Bleak Midwinter”
by Christina Rossetti
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.
Christina Georgina Rossetti is considered one of the finest female poets of the Victorian era. Born to Italian political refugees and classics scholars, she lived in London and was homeschooled. She began writing poetry by age 12. She suffered from bouts of depression which she soothed with religious devotion. A noted beauty, Rosetti never married but was engaged three times. She wrote sonnets, ballads, narrative poems, and lyrics. Remarkably prolific, Rosetti’s complete poems run to well over 1,000 pages. Her poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” was adapted as a Christmas carol by another child of refugees Gustav Holst.