Merry Christmas from San Francisco

December 15th, 2017 by Kelci Baughman McDowell Leave a reply »

To wish you a Merry Christmas from USF Library I share some season’s greetings from the Rare Book Room.

Christmas in California
by Edward Rowland Sill
printed for Caroline and Hudson Poole by John Henry Nash, 1928

This fragrance of the mountain balm / From spicy Lebanon might be; / Beneath such sunshine's amber calm / Slumbered the waves of Galilee. // O wondrous gift, in goodness given, / Each hour anew our eyes to greet, / An earth so fair -- so close to Heaven, / 'T was trodden by the Master's feet. // And we -- what bring we in return? / Only these broken lives, and lift / Them up to meet His pitying scorn, / As some poor child its foolish gift: // As some poor child on Christmas Day / Its broken toy in love might bring; / You could not break its heart and say / You cared not for the worthless thing? // Ah, word of trust, His child! That child / Who brought to earth the life divine, / Tells me the Father's pity mild / Scorns not even such a gift as mine. // I am His creature, and His air / I breathe, where'er my feet may stand; / The angels' song rings everywhere, / And all the earth is Holy Land.

San Francisco at Christmas
by Sherwood Anderson
printed for Eleanor Anderson by Ted Lilienthal at Quercus Press, 1941
(excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle, 1939)

I am asked to write a little paean to Christmas, for peoples of San Francisco.  Christianity as a system of thought, of feeling. Time to remember what it's all about.  Oscar Wilde said there had been some Christians before Christ, but none since.  A man is half tempted to believe that, realizing all this is going on in a bitter, bitten world.  Killings, brutally adopted by governments as a system of government, men aplenty here, in our own rich fat land going hungry, men unable to get that thing any decent man most wants, a job, a chance to work and be a man, to stand on his own feet, as a man.  Christianity, as we get it, too much and too often just an abstract thought. "I'll give it lip service if you'll give me immortality." A pretty one-sided bargain that.  San Francisco with the broad Pacific below its hills, the sheer beauty of the city, as it strikes a stranger, a visitor, on a sunshiny day as he stands on one of its hills, or when the fog rolls in ...  The majestic mountains back of it ...  The sunshine, the rich fruit, sea wealth, land wealth, good food, good wine.  A man coming here, lingering a few days, as I have loved to do, drinking it all in, noting the tall beauty of so many of its women, friendliness of its men, getting, while he stays, a feeling of being far away from the ugliness and brutality of war -- world tiredness going out of him ...  All he wants to say to San Francisco is, be gay. Dance in your streets, up and down your hills.  Be glad, glad that you are San Franciscans and that San Francisco is a part of America. In a seemingly damned world we Americans may still, someday, if we can stay off wars, get into our daily lives with one another a bit more of what the figure of Christ really stands for.


Two poems for Christmas
by Kenneth Patchen
printed by John Hunter Thomas and sent by USPS to Dr. Albert Shumate in San Francisco by Mr. and Mrs. Patchen in Palo Alto, December 16, 1958

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 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. (1941) NOTHING HAS CHANGED // And nothing is the same... / those who then willed death / To all men, / Now have it to wield. // Those who light candles / In this darkness tonight, / Know that time is running out. / It is clear now / That the danger for mankind / Exists not so much in instruments of destruction / Not so much in monstrous new devices for mass-murder; / As in the possibility / That a Christmas Eve will come / When no man / Anywhere in the world / Will again commit the mad folly / Of lightning candles / For the table of his house... / As an instance of his love, and of his good will, / To all men, and to all creatures, everywhere. // Then, indeed, will their madness be joined... / And darkness, at last, cover all things. (1958)

If you would like to view any of these materials in person, we invite you to visit the Rare Book Room in Gleeson Library. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Please make note of the library’s holiday schedule, and call ahead to the Rare Book Librarian to make sure of his availability.


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