Our nakedness was swaddled by the night,
With Eden’s worn-out dust our feet were shod,
When heaven opened and a being of light
Announced that earth had just received its God.

And we beheld what angels had foretold:
The Patriarch, the Virgin, and the Child.
The barn was warm, though human hearts be cold,
And we adored the Infant meek and mild.

How was it we were first, we cannot say,
Though, like our King, we had no fixed abode:
Our home was but the sky, the passing day,
Possessing nothing, thus, we nothing owed.

We saw what those, who better know than we,
With self-sufficient eyes shall never see.


In Vigilia Nativitatis
Anno MMXV Domini

From Sonnets for Christ the King © Joseph Charles MacKenzie



Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, the only American to have won Scottish International Poetry Competition. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York) and Trinacria (New York). MacKenzie has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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9 Responses

  1. Bruce E. Wren

    I especially love the first quatrain and the last couplet. Beautiful meditation for today…

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Some day in the future, the collection “Sonnets for Christ the King” will be recognized for the brilliant achievement that it is.

  3. James Sale

    A great poem and a great sonnet. There is an expressive simplicity in the best of Mackenzie’s work that augments its power. There are so many good technical aspects in this that one could comment on, that has to refrain lest one were here all day, but here’s one: the beautiful balancing in this line – ‘The barn was warm, though human hearts be cold,’ – the contrast of the warmth and the cold is heightened by the awareness of their respective locations. We expect the barn to be cold, but indeed its warm; and we expect the human heart to be warm, but it is the opposite; and the fact that a barn can be superior to a human heart just emphasises how far we are fallen. But then, of course, this is why the Christmas story is occurring and we have received ‘its God’. Superb writing.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    For me, Joseph, the best line was “Our home was but the sky, the passing day,” since we all are nomads in our quest for the bread and water of life, though you, Joseph Charles, seem to have found your true and permanent home.


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