Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)

It is impossible, in these singular dates of martyrology, to not be moved by the Roman Pontiffs, last representatives of the heroic age. And if we compare a Leo, a Pius or a Benedict to the crises of our lives, there’s not agnosticism enough to repress a wave of sympathy for them. Under the goofy stare of Pope XIII’s, we open our own eyes to the blaze of the sun. The wide and rural forehead of Pope X oversaw our understanding of acrid forbidden fruits. And Pope XV, the ornithologist, with the doddering senility of his spectacle frames, weighs us down with black eventuality: that of the Pope of death. But our breath is stilled under him, or under his successor. We feel that his blessing falls on these December celebrations with the ominous sorrow of the year 1000, between the astrologers’ conical caps, the ethereal marvels, the leprosy, the bellicose hunger and the saffron manes of the Barbarians.

The Boy, sprout of Psalms and of Bathsheba -“she who was of Uriah”- lies in the stable like petal in wheat. His hand, barely reaching out, all the way from Bethlehem sweeps away the myths, both the subterranean and the celestial. Juno, who skated across the rainbow, is lost irreparably. The heart of councils and proconsuls is emptied of its cult, overcome by an incredulity that was, through nobility, certainly less obtuse than that of the subscribers to the “Red Library.” And our household Christianity, on the other hand, pales in comparison to the transmigrant instinct of the Magi.

-Ramón López Velarde, 1923

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