Burning the Christmas Greens by William Carlos Williams Their time past, pulled down cracked and flung to the fire --go up in a roar All recognition lost, burnt clean clean in the flame, the green dispersed, a living red, flame red, red as blood wakes on the ash-- and ebbs to a steady burning the rekindled bed become a landscape of flame At the winter's midnight we went to the trees, the coarse holly, the balsam and the hemlock for their green At the thick of the dark the moment of the cold's deepest plunge we brought branches cut from the green trees to fill our need, and over doorways, about paper Christmas bells covered with tinfoil and fastened by red ribbons we stuck the green prongs in the windows hung woven wreaths and above pictures the living green. On the mantle we built a green forest and among those hemlock sprays put a herd of small white deer as if they were walking there. All this! and it seemed gentle and good to us. Their time past, relief! The room bare. We stuffed the dead grate with them upon the half burnt out log's smouldering eye, opening red and closing under them and we stood there looking down. Green is a solace a promise of peace, a fort against the cold (though we did not say so) a challenge above the snow's hard shell. Green (we might have said) that, where small birds hide and dodge and lift their plaintive rallying cries, blocks for them and knocks down the unseeing bullets of the storm. Green spruce boughs pulled down by a weight of snow--Transformed! Violence leaped and appeared. Recreant! roared to life as the flame rose through and our eyes recoiled from it. In the jagged flames green to red, instant and alive. Green! those sure abutments . . . Gone! lost to mind and quick in the contracting tunnel of the grate appeared a world! Black mountains, black and red--as yet uncolored--and ash white, an infant landscape of shimmering ash and flame and we, in that instant, lost, breathless to be witnesses, as if we stood ourselves refreshed among the shining fauna of that fire.