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A Poet's Holiday in New York City

12/05/17

 

"Give New York to a poet. He can use it. It can be poetized."

- Anaïs Nin

 

For those who know and love New York, the holidays can be an exceptional time of year. The bright lights and first snowfalls cast a particularly warm glow over the city at the start of every winter.

To demonstrate the beauty and hardship that this time of year brings, we’ve collected our favorite poetry and prose about this season from the writers and artists who have lived in and loved this city.

Each December! I always think I hate the ‘over-commercialized’ event  and then the 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-wrapping boxes up Fifth Avenue in swank shops and how can I help falling in love?

 - James Schuyler from December

 

To a displaced southerner, Christmas in New York can be rather a melancholy occasion, not because the scene is strange to one far from home, but because it is familiar: New York shoppers evince the same singleness of purpose as slow-moving southerners.

-Harper Lee, from Christmas in New York

 

New York is like a constantly playing movie that you get to just walk through and watch, but when it’s decorated for the winter holidays, it’s particularly magical.

-Ilana Glazer, writer and creator of Broad City

 

The first snow had just begun to fall and the big Christmas trees glittered yellow and white as far as I could see up Park Avenue. 

-Joan Didion, from Goodbye to All That 

 

The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide.

-Walt Whitman, from Manahatta

 

The Christmas trees are almost all sold

And the ones that are left go cheap

The children almost all over town

Have almost gone to sleep.

The skyscraper lights on Christmas Eve

Have almost all gone out

There’s very little traffic

Almost no one about.

Our town’s almost as quiet

As Bethlehem must have been

Before a sudden angel chorus

Sang PEACE ON EARTH

GOOD WILL TO MEN!

Our old Statue of Liberty

Looks down almost with a smile

As the Island of Manhattan

Awaits the morning of the Child.

 - Langston Hughes, from Christmas Eve: Nearing Midnight In New York 

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