A Poet's Holiday in New York City
"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