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A Short Analysis of Christina Rossetti’s ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’

A reading of a classic Christmas poem

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ is probably Christina Rossetti’s most famous poem, though not the one that’s most recognisable as being a Christina Rossetti poem. Indeed, many who are familiar with it perhaps don’t realise that it is a poem; it’s better-known as a song, or carol, these days. But then that’s appropriate given that Christina Rossetti first published it under the title ‘A Christmas Carol’, and the poem has a songlike quality to it. Here is ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, to which we’ve appended some words of analysis.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of ‘I syng of a mayden’

A summary of the medieval Christmas carol

‘I sing of a maiden’ – or, to render it in its delightful original spelling, ‘I syng of a mayden’ – is one of the oldest surviving Christmas carols written in English. The words to this classic carol are included below, along with some words of explanation and gloss.

I syng of a mayden
That is makeles,
king of alle kinges
to here sone che chees.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dew in Aprylle,
That fallyt on the gras. Read the rest of this entry

10 Classic Christmas Carols and the Stories Behind Them

The ten best Christmas carols – and their interesting literary origins and meaning

‘Tis the season to the jolly, so let’s all sing a Christmas carol and enjoy a mince pie. No? Okay, how about you sit back with your mince pie and a glass of sherry, and we regale you with a few interesting facts about the literary origins and histories of some of the best-loved Christmas carols. We’ve included a link to a recording of each carol, should you wish to hear them – simply click on the carol’s title to hear the merry notes ring out. What’s your favourite Christmas carol?

Anonymous, ‘Coventry Carol‘. Dating from the early sixteenth century (its words were written down by one writer in 1534) and originally part of a mystery play called  The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, this carol was a favourite of local Coventry boy Philip Larkin, who chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. Read the rest of this entry