Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Christmas at Saint Luke’s Hospital
By Eunice Tietjens
 
HERE in this house of mystery and death,
This challenge flung at God, who has set pain
And heart-ache and slow torture in his world,
Dawns Christmas Day.
                    We have outwatched the night.
Vainly, in tight-lipped silence, we have wrung        5
From creeping death a piteous hour or two.
Now it is day. The long white corridors,
Naked and empty in the winds of dawn,
Stir in the light, and grow alive again
With flitting nurses and internes in white,        10
Who talk and laugh together—as they must.
 
They wish us “Merry Christmas,” and we try
To cover our soul’s nakedness, and smile.
And as we wait, dumb with long agony,
A jingling of loud bells breaks the white calm        15
Absurdly. A man enters, dressed in red,
Tricked out in furs, white-bearded for the saint
Of rapturous childhood, and his deep eyes wear
A haunting, wistful mask of gaiety.
He laughs and capers, jingles bells and jokes        20
With mad abandon, speaks a word to us—
A frothy nothing; then, still jingling, goes,
And the white calm returns.
                    A tiny flame
Set in the vastness of the night he is,
A thin small sound that impishly disturbs        25
The silence of the spheres, a childish joy
Futile and beautiful, the soul of man
That cries to heaven, “Bring on your thunderbolts—
I still defy!”…
 
He passes, and we wrap the human warmth        30
About our shivering souls, and turn us back
To face the darkness of another day.
 
 
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