Descent; A Christmas Poem

mangerHappy Christmas!

Milton wrote an Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, which no one can hope to emulate, but in this poem I have followed his lead in drawing a contrast between the various gods of the Classical world and the full and astonishing revelation of God’s love in the manger at Bethlehem. This was originally a short three verse poem, but at the behest of Steve Bell I have re-written it so that it is now also a song, with a tune of his composing on his award-winning Album Keening for the Dawn. I have written about our collaboration here.  I have also recorded  a reading of this poem which you can hear by clicking on the ‘play’ button below or the title


They sought to soar into the skies

Those classic gods of high renown

For lofty pride aspires to rise

But you came down.


You dropped down from the mountains sheer

Forsook the eagle for the dove

The other Gods demanded fear

But you gave love




Where chiselled marble seemed to freeze

Their abstract and perfected form

Compassion brought you to your knees

Your blood was warm


They called for blood in sacrifice

Their victims on an altar bled

When no one else could pay the price

You died instead



They towered above our mortal plain,

Dismissed this restless flesh with scorn,

Aloof from birth and death and pain,

But you were born.


Born to these burdens, borne by all

Born with us all ‘astride the grave’

Weak, to be with us when we fall,

And strong to save.



Filed under imagination

15 responses to “Descent; A Christmas Poem

  1. Jim Heffinger

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  2. Randy Groover

    I wish I could say something more profound about this poem, but it leaves me speechless. All I can say is that it is beautiful! Merry Christmas!

  3. Wow. What a small world. I heard Steve Bell sing this song at his concert here in Calgary on December 18th! Merry Christmas Malcolm and thank you for the gift of your words.

  4. matthewclarkmusic

    So much hope for me here. A favorite. Merry Christmas to you and your family from Mississippi. – Matthew Clark

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Beautiful. Simple. Stirring.

  6. Brett Gray

    Thank you Malcolm. Read aloud to the family over the post present detritus this morning.

  7. Dean & Darlene Pinter

    Dear Malcolm,

    Thank you for this Christmas poem – it warmed our family’s hearts on this cold, bright morning.

    With much gratitude from Canada,

    Dean Pinter

  8. Eileen Devaney

    Happy Christmas to you too, Malcolm! I am really enjoying your posts! Thank you.

    Eileen Devaney


  9. Pingback: More About “Descent” | Faye Hall

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