.

.

Dramatis Personae:

Ebenezer Scrooge: An infamous miser
Bob Cratchit: Scrooge’s assistant
Mrs. Cratchit: Bob’s wife
Tiny Tim: Disabled child of the Cratchits
Jacob Marley: Scrooge’s old partner
Mr. Fezziwig: Scrooge’s former employer
Old Joe: A well-known London fence
Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future: Three spirits sent to intercede in Scrooge’s life

.

A Christmas Carol

London, England, the day before Christmas . . .

Ebenezer went down to his firm in the cold,
Where his workers were huddled, all counting his gold;
In the furnace the coal was beginning to die,
And black greed was alight in the cruel miser’s eye.

At his door were soon heard a few tentative knocks:
Two altruists holding an alms-giving box.
When Scrooge, with a “Bah!”, sent them fast on their way,
Bob Cratchit, his clerk, asked for one holiday.

Granting spiteful permission Scrooge left them to work,
Drawing back to his house, leaving all to his clerk.
Up the stairs to his door with a handle of brass—
In the knocker an omen of what would soon pass.

Scrooge skulked through his house with stale cheese and hard bread,
Only a candle aloft in rooms cold as the dead.
His aged body collapsed in a chair by the fire,
And he began to nod off as he started to tire.

With a start—all the sudden!—he awoke in the night,
Hearing chains all a-rattle, abandoned by light.
A figure appeared bound tightly in fetters:
One of the afterlife’s undying debtors.

.

.

Scrooge knew this ghoul’s face: his old partner long passed,
Who was haunted by guilt for the gold he’d amassed.
To the poor and the needy he’d ne’er spared a dime,
And through all of these sins forged a chain wrought of crime.

Now in the hereafter he longed to make right,
Helping others and freeing his friend from his plight;
Marley warned Scrooge’s fate was almost foregone—
A last chance for penance: three Ghosts before dawn.

Now left all alone, Scrooge pondered his fate:
Was the spirit just here? Was it something I ate?
As time crept around on the face of the clock,
He feared its return and secured tight the lock.

As he lay in his bed, the old chime tolled ONE,
And his curtain was drawn by a hand he’d fain shun:
A creature — a being — with childhood’s light,
Yet drawn and receded like a long-buried wight.

A branch of fresh holly and a dress of full flowers,
A Spirit sent bedside to roll back the hours.
With a touch of its hand, the two passed through the wall,
And before him he saw his drear youth through a pall:

A small boy sat forlorn in a dusty old place—
His classmates carefree, a sad look on his face.
He’d found friendship a bother and playtime a bore,
So he went to his books and he slammed shut the door.

From the schoolyard the curtain pulled back on his prime,
And revealed festivities of gay Christmastime.
His old boss, Fezziwig, treated Scrooge like a son,
While Scrooge to his workers was father to none.

.

.

The scene melted away and a new act unfurled,
And was fixed on a woman who’d once been his world.
In the end they had parted (though he started to plead),
When she found that his heart worshipped nothing but greed.

Now witness to memories that haunted his years,
He scrapped with the Spirit—a whirlwind of fears.
“That they are what they are,” came reply to his shame,
As a damning reproach: “With yourself lies the blame!”

To a deadened sleep he was thrown by this fight,
Til he woke with a start, his room drowning in light.
Donning slippers he shuffled, put his hand on the lock,
When a voice boomed aloud throwing Scrooge in a shock.

Abundance and plenty surrounded this Ghost—
A giant, green-robed, the year’s consummate host.
He was bidden draw close in his tattered night-sweater,
With the faintest of hopes that he’d know Christmas better.

.

.

Yet before this well-natured and generous guise,
Scrooge found it impossible to meet those bright eyes.
He then, in his heart, felt the lesson’s effect
Of the previous night and his life’s retrospect.

They left his bleak house to a London in gloom,
Yet the children were joyous, their cheeks all abloom.
What a vision of plenty, the grocers well-stocked—
Even the poorest in town gave with purses unlocked!

Strolling swiftly they came to the house of his clerk;
From the window they saw the Day’s spirit at work.
Mrs. Cratchit and daughters and son by the fire,
With Bob Cratchit weighed down so that Tim could see higher.

A feast then unfurled, the kids drowning in sage,
And a pudding that followed which took center stage.
A toast to old Scrooge, he who founded the feast,
Met with censure and hum-bug—they called him a beast!

Outside Scrooge cast his eyes at his feet out of shame,
And for once felt the anguish that followed his name.
Looking back in the house at their son with new care,
Scrooge saw in his mind: dusty crutch, empty chair.

A strange feeling sprang up in his heart at this news,
And he knew the boy’s life would demand that he choose.
But the Spirit was pulling him far from their glee
To poor miners and men keeping Christmas at sea.

While his heart learned the lessons the Spirits invoked,
The Specter decayed, two youths clutching its cloak.
They were twisted by age—wolfish, meager, and gaunt.
The brother is Ignorance; his sister is Want.

And appearing inside of the gathering dark—
A new Phantom, both hooded and cloaked in robes stark,
Bearing lessons and prophecy all without voice:
Scrooge’s soul on the brink: that his fate lie with choice.

Once more to grey London, the heart of exchange,
Where the lenders sat hunched over trinkets arranged;
Strange gossip, a funeral—a miser had passed,
But for him they cared not, just his money amassed.

In the dingiest, dreariest part of the Town,
Where met strangers to barter and haggle costs down,
Old Joe sat enthroned ‘mid a small pack of crooks
Where the parted’s possessions were met with cold looks.

Throughout Scrooge’s life he’d met people with scorn—
His legacy nothing, with no one to mourn.
Where should have been family and memory replete
There was only a corpse in the dark on a sheet.

His plea to the Spirit: some tenderer death!
Yet his eyes met a family robbed of one breath.
Mr. Cratchit walked slowly, his head hung down low,
While the rest of the family sat still in dim glow.

“He was so very light on my shoulder,” Bob said,
As he’d been at the graveyard to see the small dead;
But his heart was quite glad as he painted the scene —
A clean grave in a field all surrounded with green.

Now Scrooge knew that their parting would soon come to pass,
And was led by his house to a church choked with grass.
The Spirit stood marking one grave in the weeds;
Scrooge wiped clear its face and fell mute to his knees.

.

.

His whole life, his existence, was cast in new light,
And he begged of the Spirit a chance to do right;
As he clasped the Ghost’s hand his whole mind filled with dread,
When the Ghoul disappeared—just a post on his bed!

Now finding himself in his room still alive
(On the morning of Christmas!), he vowed to contrive
A new life of the Spirits, all Three in one heart.
Out the window he burst and gave all quite a start!

He laughed and sent off a wee lad for The Bird
(The biggest you’ve seen in your life, mark my word!)—
The young boy darted off, right quick like a shot,
While he shaved, got dressed, and went out at a trot.

To their infinite shock he met all with a smile;
“Merry Christmas” was clear on his face all the while.
To the beggars, his alms; to his family, his time.
To think that this change from the sound of a chime!

When Bob Cratchit arrived at his work the next day,
Scrooge flew at his throat like a grim bird of prey.
Yet he found Scrooge’s manner more jest than professed,
And for Bob and his family, where once cursed, they were blessed.

So it ever was said that Scrooge kept Christmas well,
For the Spirits of Grace in his heart came to dwell.
And what can be learned from this strange circumstance?
That a person can change if they’re given a chance.

.

.

Talbot Hook is a PhD student and occasional writer currently living in Connecticut.


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14 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    This retelling, Talbot, is an interesting dismantling of “humbug,” and I am looking forward to my own transformation.

    Reply
  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Quite an impressive effort, considering the demands of a doctoral program.
    And a Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Hook.

    Reply
  3. Peter Hartley

    Talbot – A fine rhythmic retelling of the story, and a very Merrie Christmas to you.

    Reply
  4. Paul Freeman

    I read ‘A Christmas Carol’ every year – you’ve done the story credit.

    Thanks for the read, Talbot.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      By the way, I read your poem to the tune of Chris de Burgh’s Christmas song, ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’.

      Reply
      • Talbot

        If there were ever a song to do it to, it might be that one! Now you have me doing the same!

  5. Cheryl Corey

    I think Dickens would be proud, maybe even a little jealous. An amazing accomplishment!

    Reply
  6. Yael

    What a great way to enjoy the Christmas Carol, thank you and Merry Christmas to you. Very nice!

    Reply
  7. Talbot

    Thanks, all, and a very Happy Christmas season to you! It was fun to write, so I’m glad there was some enjoyment in the reading!

    Reply
  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Thank you for the hard work you’ve put into this festive delight that, for me, conjures scenes of school days at Christmas, crossed legged on a mat listening attentively as the teacher read the class Dicken’s mini masterpiece… which I love. Great stuff!

    Reply
  9. David Watt

    Talbot, yours is a fine retelling of my favorite Dickens tale. Thank you for
    taking the time to create this piece.

    Reply

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