Among The Pines

Here let us linger at will and delightsomely hearken
Music aeolian of wind in the boughs of pine,
Timbrel of falling waters, sounds all soft and sonorous,
Worshipful litanies sung at a bannered shrine.

Deep let us breathe the ripeness and savor of balsam,
Tears that the pines have wept in sorrow sweet,
With its aroma comes beguilement of things forgotten,
Long-past hopes of the years on tip-toeing feet.

Far in the boskiest glen of this wood is a dream and a silence­
Come, we shall claim them ours ere look we long;
A dream that we dreamed and lost, a silence richly hearted,
Deep at its lyric core with the soul of a song.

If there be storm, it will thunder a march in the branches,
So that our feet may keep true time as we go;
If there be rain, it will laugh, it will glisten, and beckon,
Calling to us as a friend all lightly and low.

If it be night, the moonlight will wander winsomely with us,
If it be hour of dawn, all heaven will bloom,
If it be sunset, it's glow will enfold and pursue us.
To the remotest valley of purple gloom.

Lo! the pine wood is a temple where the days meet to worship,
Laying their cark and care for the nonce aside,
God, who made it, keeps it as a witness to Him forever,
Walking in it, as a garden, at eventide.

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Other poems of MONTGOMERY (96)

Comments (2)

Mr Fogerty has completely misread this poem. The legend of oxen kneeling before the Christ child on that first Christmas eve and continuing the practice down through the ages is precisely what appeals to Hardy. He believed the legend when a child and would dearly love to have it confirmed as an adult by a walk to the lonely barton where he grew up. The legend for Hardy is the poetry in Christianity, the thing that makes it real for him, that makes it live and breathe. Sweep that aside and all that remains are a few dry details that have come down to us from two thousand years ago that may or may not be true.
So much of what is written about Christmas is idealised, coloured by the myths and sentimental accretions of two thousand years of Christianity and commercialism. Yet here, in four short stanzas, Hardy cuts through all of the cant and, yes, bunkum, that we accept unquestioningly as part of the Christmas package, or experience. In the first stanza we witness the passing on of the Christmas myths from old to young: elders speaking to children of the oxen kneeling at Bethlehem. In stanza two the unquestioning acceptance by the young 'nor did it occur to one of us there/ to doubt they were kneeling then.' Then the ruefulness of stanza three, the realisation that maybe it was all a pleasant fiction. Then, in the final stanza, the reluctance to accept that what the 'elders' had told of the oxen was a 'fancy', simple self-deception. And finally, the way in which myth can overpower reality, the desire to cling on to the deceptions that were fed to one in childhood, a desire that would make one 'run through the gloom/ hoping it might be so.' Myths, and the self-deception born of myths, are difficult to cast aside. Once again Hardy has written a near perfect poem, certainly one of the most realistic and honest poems ever written about Christmas and the way in which myths are passed on from old to young and the difficulty in breaking free of their grip..