A CHRISTMAS VERSE
(based on ’A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens)
Watch the video version @ A CHRISTMAS VERSE
Away in a corner, no wick for a flame,
a grizzled old miser records the year’s gain;
the sum for deposit, he marks with great care…
for kindly donations, he’s nothing to spare.
The hour has arrived for his counting to stop,
for him and his faithful to close up the shop.
“Bless ye’ for Christmas!” cries his employee…
“Humbug!” he growls, “you’ll get nothing from me!”
And as he approaches his own barren door,
he wonders what Christmas is really meant for;
a frivolous nuisance, a costly event,
where good money’s wasted, impractically spent.
So, donning his nightcap, he lies down to sleep,
first musing of riches and contracts to keep;
then drifting still deeper, his last conscious thought:
how sweet it would be, if Christmas were not!
But something awakes him: a harsh, grating sound…
he opens his eyes and he peers all around;
down at his feet, a strange form has unfurled,
a visage immortal, not part of this world!
And yet, it resembles someone from his past,
to the sad, wasted features, an intimate cast;
the tormented profile is one he should know,
for it’s that of his partner who died long ago.
“Repent, Ebenezer!” he hears the ghost moan
in a voice so horrific it chills to the bone;
“I’ve come here to tell you to find a new way…
For your callous indifference, you surely will pay!”
“Though I see Jacob Marley,” the old man replies,
“my senses deceive me; in the graveyard he lies!
It’s mere indigestion, a bit of bad beef…
if I just close my eyes, I will find some relief.”
“Not so!” wails the spectre, and rattles his chain,
“I’m here to reform you and here I’ll remain!
Come to your senses – before it’s too late –
or suffer, as I have, a hideous fate!”
By now, Ebenezer has covered his head,
looked to the refuge of his rustic old bed,
and thus does he wait, and keeps very still…
dulling his heartbeat by sheer force of will.
When finally he ventures to unveil his face,
behold! a new vision in the old phantom’s place!
A little white figure, not young and not old,
whose crown bears a light, translucent, yet bold.
“Rise up from your bed… make ready, and fast!
I’ve come here to show you the deeds of your past.
Hold tight to your courage and cling to my hand…
tonight, I will take you to a dear, distant land.”
So, together they fly to a place of his youth
where his happiest memories are shown in their truth;
they speak of a time when he laughed and shed tears
and promised to give his heart down through the years.
They also allude to ambition’s strong pull,
to how his fat purse could never be full…
and worse, how it stole him away from his vow
and left him alone, the way he is now.
This scene, from the miser, draws one single tear;
it’s more than he’s shed in many a year.
He asks of the ghost if these loved ones are well,
who replies, “of the present, I never can tell.”
Then, quick as it flared, the beacon goes out…
the next thing he hears is a knock and a shout;
“I am the one who will speak of today.
Just open the door, for I don’t mean to stay!”
Yet ere he can ponder, the door is burst wide
and in comes a giant, pulsating with pride;
Surrounded by plenty, and crowned with a wreath,
he wears a great robe with no shoes underneath.
This new ghost sheds light on the home of his clerk,
the one he pays scantly for diligent work;
he hears Cratchit thank him, in spite of the fact
that his family is famished from what they all lack.
His shame is complete when he learns, with a sigh,
that the youngest is sickly and likely to die.
“Oh, spirit! Have pity, and tell me his fate…
is the child going to live, or is it too late?”
“I am of the present; I cannot foresee.
If you want to know more, you must ask spirit three.”
Then aiming his sceptre into the dark night,
his laughter resounds as he fades out of sight.
And now, a great pall has fallen around
as poor Ebenezer sinks to the ground,
and while he envisions his certain demise,
a shadow spreads over the places where he lies.
Looming above, with no face he can see:
the ominous figure of ghost number three…
it wears a vast cloak, and he spies, with alarm,
amid its dark folds… a bony white arm!
It doesn’t take long for this ghost to make clear
that someone’s being mourned who was never held dear,
a person of whom all are glad to be rid…
from whom they can steal all the treasure he hid.
Next, he is shown one more picture to come
of another who’s died, of true value to some;
he sees by the fire, a blank little stool
once used by a boy just barely in school.
“Why, that is the place of Cratchit’s young son…
don’t tell me what’s happened cannot be undone!
For if I’m to blame through my consummate greed,
I sorely repent! For your mercy, I plead!
I know that forgiveness is too much to ask…
just give me one chance to accomplish the task
of pledging myself to keep Christmas, year round;
a worthier soul will never be found!”
And the next thing he knows, he awakes in his room,
where sunshine replaces the ill-omened gloom,
and when he hears bells celebrating the morn,
he knows that it’s Christmas… and he is reborn.
From that Christmas onward, the miser is changed;
what matters to him is all rearranged.
Instead of conserving the bulk of his pay,
in Love he gets rich, as he gives it away.
“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” ~ Charles Dickens