One of my little Christmas literary treasures is an original Golden Cockerel Press printing of G. K. Chesterton's The House of Christmas illustrated with an engraving by Eric Gill. I had planned to put it up today but my friend Mark Shea has posted that wonderful Christmas poem on his blog for your savoring.
So I thought I'd post the Chesterton poem that is one of my other favorites. It doesn't evoke our longing for our eternal home, for what C. S. Lewis named "Joy". Here we contemplate the love and humility that made the Incarnation possible: the unimaginable distance that God crossed to seek and to find us.
Gloria in Profundis
There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all thing and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its slendour is spilt on the sand.
Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrent,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?
For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angles fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountains of hell;
But unmeasured of plummet and ord
Too deep for their sights to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.
Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate -
Where the thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightening fears to be late:
As men dive for a sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star that has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.