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"I Have Lighted the Candles, Mary"

Dec. 20, 2011
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"I Have Lighted the Candles, Mary"

I have lighted the candles, Mary . . .
How softly breathes your little Son

My wife has spread the table
With with our best cloth. There are apples,
Bright as red clocks, upon the mantel.
The snow is a weary face at the window.
How sweetly does He sleep

“Into this bitter world, O Terrible Huntsman!”
I say, and she takes my hand -- “Hush,
You will wake Him.”

The taste of tears is on her mouth
When I kiss her.  I take an apple
And hold it tightly in my fist;
The cold, swollen face of war leans in the window.

They are blowing out the candles, Mary . . .
The world is a thing gone mad tonight.
O hold Him tenderly, dear Mother,

For His is a kingdom in the hearts of men.

Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was born in Ohio, attended the University of Wisconsin,
and published over forty books in his lifetime.  He was an inspiration for the Beat Generation and was one of first poets to read poetry with jazz.  He was a lifelong pacifist and advocate for social justice.  ''I Have Lighted the Candles, Mary'' By Kenneth Patchen, from COLLECTED POEMS OF KENNETH PATCHEN, copyright ©1942 by Kenneth Patchen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.


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