A Christmas Song

By Norman Williams Norman Williams
Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat
                        Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
                        If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.
                        If you haven’t got a ha’penny, Gold bless you.

Tonight the wide, wet flakes of snow
Drift down like Christmas suicides,
Layering the eaves and boughs until
The landscape seems transformed, as from
A night of talk or love. I’ve come
From cankered ports and railroad hubs
To winter in a northern state:
Three months of wind and little light.
Wood split, flue cleaned, and ashes hauled,
I am now proof against the cold
And make a place before the stove.
Mired fast in middle age, possessed
Of staved-in barn and brambled lot,
I think of that fierce-minded woman
Whom I loved, painting in a small,
Unheated room, or of a friend,
Sharp-ribbed from poverty, who framed
And fitted out his house by hand
And writes each night by kerosene.
I think, that is, of others who
Withdrew from commerce and the world
To work for joy instead of gain.
O would that I could gather them
This Yuletide, and shower them with coins.

“A Christmas Song” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (www.ohioswallow.com).

Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)

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Poet Norman Williams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Nature, Winter, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

Holidays Christmas

Poetic Terms Free Verse


An attorney in Burlington, Vermont, Norman Williams earned a BA from the University of Colorado in 1974 and a JD from Yale University in 1979. He is the author of the poetry collections The Unlovely Child: Poems (1985) and One Unblinking Eye (2003). He has received an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Fellowship, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Unlovely Child won the I.B. Lavan Award. Poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Winter, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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