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Prelude: Part II

               ...Open your eyes. Let the dream dissolve,
remember who and where you are, and when;
forgive this rather rude awakening
from childhood tales and timeworn images
of undetermined historicity
mixed with poetic whimsy and the dust
of an empire fifteen centuries dead;
and follow, if reluctantly, my voice

   Back to our own time, and another Advent
in this, the most portentous of all years:
The thirteen cycles winding slowly down,
and my own decade, too, set to expire
the same day; and though often not inclined
to wild belief or baseless superstition
I cannot help but feel some apprehension
at this unsettling confluence of endings.

   And signs more tangible: once more besieged
by heatwave and by storm the nations gather
to sink their hopes in well-rehearsed defeat
with grim paralysis the only victor.
   …But should we be surprised? For we as well
make vows in Advent's wake of warm goodwill
(derisive in their triviality,
and, mostly, for our single benefit) --

   Yet as the dark and numbing chill drags on
we find ourselves back in the old routine,
resentful in our disillusionment
at all the new year's broken promises;
in carefully devised amnesia
forgetting it was we ourselves who failed,
both traitor and betrayed -- (and, in strict truth,
our expectations having been no higher).

   And so, next year, we come once more around
the endless wheel of our own trodden footsteps
shamefaced with a self-deprecating smile
and wearied from our unredemptive wounds,
surprised, as ever, by the early darkness:
   To humbly beg for absolution, and
purification by the changeless pine,
the blood-red holly, and fresh-fallen snow.

   And for a week (or maybe two) pretend:
this time, yes, peace shall reign, and Christmas heal
all things; and smugly basking in the soft
reflected halo of the coloured lights
forget the archived wrongs and the detritus
that lie preserved within the layered drifts
to rot unmasked in spring's discovery:
such is our long-accepted ritual.

   …But now, in this most snowless of Decembers,
hypocrisy is futile; though our taste
for self-deception may be satisfied,
an overburdened earth is not amused
nor suffering appeased. Our half-voiced dreams
may be fulfilled; the vital, urgent task
set for us: truth. In mingled hope and fear
walk with me, then, through Advent now, and here.

Cross-posted from For background on my Advent Canticle project, see

All Advent Canticle entries are available here: Archive of Advent Canticles

To existing readers of this blog: For various reasons, I'm now attaching brief titles (mostly first lines) to my entries. Nothing else has changed: the series is still running one per day and all the Advent Canticle entries are still available here.

Originally posted to Green Canticle on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:35 PM PST.

Also republished by Anglican Kossacks.

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