The Cultivation of Christmas Trees by TS Eliot

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees (1954)

TS Eliot

1 There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
2 Some of which we may disregard:
3 The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
4 The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
5 And the childish---which is not that of the child
6 For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
7 Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
8 Is not only a decoration, but an angel.
9 The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
10 Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
11 At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
12 So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
13 Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
14 So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
15 (Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
16 The expectation of the goose or turkey
17 And the expected awe on its appearance,
18 So that the reverence and the gaiety
19 May not be forgotten in later experience,
20 In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
21 The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
22 Or in the piety of the convert
23 Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
24 Displeasing to God and disrespectful to the children
25 (And here I remember also with gratitude
26 St. Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):
27 So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
28 (By "eightieth" meaning whichever is the last)
29 The accumulated memories of annual emotion
30 May be concentrated into a great joy
31 Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
32 When fear came upon every soul:
33 Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
34 And the first coining of the second coming.

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