James Schuyler’s “December”: “a calm secret exultation of the spirit”

“Each December! I always think I hate ‘the over-commercialized event,'” James Schuyler writes in his poem “December,” one of my favorite poems about this time of year.  Despite his reluctance, the season somehow always manages to win him over: “and then bells ring, or tiny light bulbs wink above the entrance / to Bonwit Teller or Katherine going on five wants to look at all / the empty sample gift-wrapped boxes up Fifth Avenue in swank shops / and how can I help falling in love?”

Schuyler’s poem is also one of the best “Christmas in New York” poems that I can think of, as it captures so vividly the distinctive feeling of a wintry December dusk in the city.

Here is “December” by James Schuyler, which appeared in his first book, Freely Espousing (1969).  You can also hear Schuyler read the poem himself in this audio recording at PennSound.

May you all enjoy that “calm secret exultation of the spirit that tastes like Sealtest eggnog” too — happy holidays!

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