The Heart of Christmas

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Immensity cloistered in thy dear wombe,

Now leaves his welbelov’d imprisonment,

There he hath made himself to his intent

Weak enough, now into our world to come;

But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th’Inne no roome?

Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,

Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent

Th’effect of Herod’s jealous general doom;

Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how he

Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?

Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,

That would have need to be pitied by thee?

Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,

With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.


This old verse is part of the poet John Donne’s 7 verse poem ‘La Corona’ (The Crown) about the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension.

What Glorious ‘Impossibilities’!

The Maker is made , the One who is everywhere is ‘cloistered’ in a womb, the All powerful Creator comes in the weakness and vulnerability of a babe, the God of love, becomes an infant needing a mother’s loving care. We walk on holy ground here!

The line that has been ringing in my ears since hearing this poem read out aloud (as all poetry should be) is ‘Immensity cloistered in thy dear wombe’.

How wonderful that though there was ‘no room in the inn’, there was room in Mary’s womb—a place where Immensity could be ‘cloistered’ – staggering thought. We can all identify with this, since we have all come from a mother’s ‘womb’ – a place of security and warmth were life can begin. We can identify with Jesus as he identifies with us, not just from ‘the cradle to the grave’, as we sometimes say, but from the womb to the Resurrection – the whole of life.

Have a heart felt and Christ filled Christmas this year.



2 thoughts on “The Heart of Christmas

  1. Thank you for this Christmas gift. I recognised this immediately as Donne, but I have not encountered these verses before; so they were new to me as I read them (aloud!) to myself. What a delight. Donne writes so beautifully, the simplicity of his faith cutting through the metaphysical curlicues of his language. (I think I have always been a little in love with him.)

    ‘Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
    That would have need to be pitied by thee?’
    Words that, with infinite gentleness, cut to the heart.


  2. Thank you again for your comment. I’m rather late into poetry having been raised in the world of horticulture.. Talking about me,a friend of my wife said: ‘I won’t speak about a miss-spent youth, but of a well-spent retirement !’. Yes, I’m now hungrily making up for lost time!
    I love George Herbert and some of Henry Vaughan’s poems, though they are sometimes not easy to understand. But they certainly touch the heart, as you say. That’s what I’m looking for,

    Liked by 1 person

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