"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Videos, Poems, and Links, for Christmas' Eve and Lalo Guerrero's "Pancho Claus"


In trying to think of some Christmas-themed literature, I dind't find a lot of Chicano stuff, not because there isn't any; I was just to lazy to go though my entire library. So I through I'd go across the board in literature.

From Verse to Music

Below are some Christmas links for you. Some are religious in nature, but it's nice to see when poems evolve into much bigger things. Maybe a Chicano(a) poem someday. I know one of Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.'s poems was turned into a song and sung by the Grammy award-winning Chanticleer.

My main point in all the stuff I post is that we are yet to see a Chicano(a) children's book animated, and for you to pay attention to these poems I list below. If people bothered to set them to music -- they transverses the page.

Now, I know J. Michael Martinez and Carlos Morton ("Esperanza") has both written librettos. I need to look where Martinez' went. Octavio Solis either has written one, or is writing one. Oh, before I forget, remember Solis' play "La Posada Magica" which I hear now is being turned into a musical or has already.

Nevertheless, I think is really neat that one of the worlds top choral groups would perform a poem set to music by Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. Kudos a mi carnal Trini. Maybe your poem is next?

I Dream a World

I heard a Christmas concert the other night and they sang "I Dream a World" by Langston Hughes. Below is a MLK video with a chorus singing "I Dream a World":

I Dream a World
by Langston Hughes

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn.
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind--
Of such I dream, my world!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), p. 311.

Dylan Thomas Christmas

Of course there's the classic "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas:

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." READ MORE.

Raymond Briggs' classic Childrens book

The Snowman and its animated short are much more famous in England than in the US. Watching the animated short is a holiday tradition over there (at least so I read) and the merchandising of the snowman character is a big thing. Seeing the video below you can see why it is a classic. The music is by Howard Blake. Based on Raymond Briggs 1978 classic childrens book, this book has no words, its all in pictures. The animator, Dianne Jackson, is the same who did Granpa based on the book by John Burningham (wait unitl after the holidays to see this one). Also, if you like "The Snowman" check out Raymond Brigg's "Father Christmas."

The animated version of "The Snowman" has the song "I'm Walking in the Air" (Blake) which became very famous. I've posted Part 1 of "The Snowman" and I'd encourage you to sit through it and see parts 2 and 3.:

If anything, at least see the "Walking in the Air" scene:

Two Poems by Rossetti

Here are two of Christina Rossetti's poems that have become classic Christmas Carols, that is once set to music:


Christina Rossetti (1872)
clr gif
In the bleak mid-winter
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 mid-winter
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 mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Love Came Down at Christmas
Christina Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Here's one by Thomas Hardy

The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy

CHRISTMAS Eve, and twelve of the clock.
‘Now they are all on their knees,’
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
‘Come; see the oxen kneel
‘In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,’
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Carols and Poets

There are other lesser-known carols that have involved poets. Among them is "Bethlehem Down" (see it performed) by Bruce Blunt put to music by Peter Warlock. Warlock infamous for his alleged involvement in the occult and use of the pseudonym "Warlock." See "Bethlehem Down's verse by Blunt: Bethlehem Down.

Worst Poet in England

"Wither's Rocking Hymn" (see it performed) was put to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams. George Wither who lived during the English Civil War, and who changed sides quite often. There is a famous incident when Withers leading cavalry for the Parliament, was captured by Royalist forces and faced execution. According to the New Oxford Book of Carols, "...he was spared execution only through the intercession of the Royalist poet Sir John Denham, who pleaded that so long as Wither lived, he (Denham) would not be accounted the worst poet in England."

There are also some poetry that we don't know the authorship. One is "Adam lay ybouden" (hear it performed by the Medieval Babes) which has been set to music by Boris Ord, Warlock, among others (see the verse). There's a bunch of holiday stuff by Wordsworth, Blake, and others set to music, especially by 20th century English composers such as Britten, Vaughn Williams, Holst, and Walton.

The Blue Carbuncle

Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle" is a good Christmas mystery story (Sherlock Holmes) that's not cheesy. The one I post below has the unforgettable Jeremy Brent. Here's part 1, you can catch parts 2 and so forth on youtube.com:

Last, I caught this Scottish-Gailic carol "Taludh Chriosda" (Christ Child's Lullaby) so I tracked down a youtube.com version for you:

Of course who can forget the great Lalo Guerrero and Pancho Claus:

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