I am re-reading this one for a second time because it is such a great one to get you to slow down, think about Advent themes, and just enjoy the language in it. I recommended it last year along with two others, but this has lingered with me.
So, what does it have? There is a poem a day and a bit of commentary on it. It will slow you down, and it will give you hope.
He has carefully selected poets, old and new, for this beautiful book. There are older names, like Christina Rossetti and G.K. Chesterton. The newer poets include Scott Cairns and Robert Hayden. All the poems have been selected because there is something in them that relates to Advent and the themes of waiting, Grace, gifts, creation, and, of course, hope.
Each of these pieces is beautiful in and of itself. But taken together, it becomes more. It becomes hopeful and hope filled! His deep insight and spiritual wisdom created in me a new appreciation for each day of Advent and a deeper love for Jesus, Immanuel, the Light of the World!
Let's look at his entry for December 12:
The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.
Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound.
Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and good will, good will and peace,
Peace and good will to all mankind.
This year I slept and woke with pain,
I'd almost wish'd no more to wake,
and that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:
But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll'd me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touched with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
The man hears the peaceful calm of the bells but cannot listen. There is a fuller confession of grief and bitterness.
And grief does attack when we are in the midst of someone else's peace and beauty.
And yet he returns to listen to the bells. It helps to control the grief. He returns to an earlier time when he was a boy and the bells were a comfort to him.
There is healing, hope, in the sound of the bells. He is changed.
Malcolm Guite is Chaplain of Girton College in Cambridge. He has written a number of books that are similar in helping the reader to ‘see’ the Holy Spirit in the poetry. He has written for the church calendar, including Sounding the Seasons, Word in the Wilderness, and The Singing Bowl.
Order this from Amazon or anywhere else and I am sure you will slow down like I did! You will see the Lord Jesus and his birth. Enter his world and be filled. Waiting, wonder, mystery, and mainly hope.