Quirky Books: Poems of Christmas edited by Myra Livingston

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poems of Christmas edited by Myra Livingston

An odd book, it features the development of Christmas over the centuries. The first few chapters depict the nativity scene from various artists and characters said to be present in the New Testament; including, barnyard animals. As a collaboration of poets, the notable professionalism of copyrighting each poet is commendable.

Myra Cohn Livingston, born in 1926, published several children's books and was one of the founders of the Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People. Though never receiving awards herself, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award is given to an aspiring poet annually.

Most of the poems are written by famous American writers with only a few poets from other continents. What is surprising is how many poems are dedicated to the Birth of Christ. Many people complain about the loss of religion in the annual celebration. If you are one, you will love this book.

Some poems are still famous, while many are obscure in modern day society. An entire chapter is dedicated to animals acknowledging or witnessing the Baby Jesus. Mice, hogs and my personal favorite, "jackasses," interpret the event in joyous or curious ways. One poem, "Jubilate Herbis," interprets Christmas with plants: laurel, rosemary, ivy and mistletoe.

Popular poems, songs and excerpts from Christmas plays add a marketable feature to the book. While promoting the book with "a Christmas Carol," "the Twelve Days of Christmas" and "In the Town" the clear goal is to expand people's perception of Christmas and literary knowledge.

Some copyrights are held by publishers or family, since the poets are no longer available to grant permission. Angel Flores is acknowledged for the copyright of "a Little Carol of the Virgin" written by Lope de Vega who lived from 1562 to 1616.

Well thought and uncommonly professional, it provides a mixture of poems intended for children and young adults. Friendly to most audiences, a thrill or deterrent is in a higher emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas. Published in 1980 it could be one of the last links between currently preferred poets and lesser known poets of her youth.

Poetry Breakdown
At Dawn the Virgin is Born by Lope de Vega
Here We Come A-Wassailing