December,1942

(After Peter Huchel)

How resounding is the winter squall.
Hole-riddled the loam walls of Bethlehem's stall.

That's Mary murdered at the entrance gate,
Hair frozen to the bloody stones and grate.

Masked in rags, three soldiers limping by
Cannot burn from her ear the infant's cry.

The last canteen sunflower won't get them far.
They seek the way and cannot see the star.

Aurum, thus, myrrham offerunt...
Crow and cur come to a manger ruined.

... quia natus est nobis Dominus.
On a bleached skeleton gleam soot and ooze.

The way to Stalingrad's a smouldering glow.
And it leads to a charnel house of snow.

by Leo Yankevich

Comments (5)

Sweet music it is to my nose!
One of the most puzzling sonnets, because the logic of it is not at all clear, and because there is very little in the literature of the time which gives clues as to how we should interpret it. Most of the Elizabethan sonnets are entirely restrained, and one almost believes that no thought of sex could ever have entered the lover's head. To a certain extent this is mere convention, and one has to read between the lines to see that complaints of the beloved's coldness, or that she is harder than flint and rock, imply that she refuses to give any sexual favours, not even a kiss. Occasionally a sonneteer oversteps the mark. Sidney, for example gives Stella a kiss while she is sleeping, and also writes a sonnet on desire, which I give below. But there is only one other sonnet which I know of among the many produced by Elizabethan sonnet writers which, like this one, oversteps the conventional bounds of what it is permissible to say of sexual desire. Sonnet 76 of Barnabe Barne's sequence Parthenophil and Parthenope instructs his 'upright parts of pleasure' to fall down, and tells his wanton thighs that they cannot entwine themselves round his mistress's thighs, as he had hoped. The sonnet may have had some influence on this one of Shakespeare's.
However none of this is much use in guiding our interpretations, for we lack the background knowledge of the fault that he is charged with, which he threatens to throw back upon his mistress, and we do not have information from other sources that Cupid and conscience were linked in any way. The poem explores the relationship between sexuality and love, and comes to the conclusion that the two cannot be separated, a conclusion at variance with the established tradition, from Petrarch onwards, which emphasises the soul at the expense of the body, and veers much more towards the neo-Platonic view that only the visions of the soul are worthy of consideration. shakespeares-sonnets.com/
Awesome I like this poem, check mine out
Here Shakespeare talks of conscience, youth and treason Of love's triumph over flesh he doth recall It seems the lack of an ability to reason Results in votes of 1 from simple fools