Dostoyevsky’s Heavenly Christmas Tree

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For “electronic laser TV generations that don’t read Dostoyevsky” quoth Allen Ginsberg

Fyodor, Fedor, Feodor
Dostoevski, Dostoievsky, Dostoevskii, Dostoevsky, Dostoyevsky was a psychologist, pardon, novelist
His Christmas story is about a six-year-old boy, perhaps younger than six
The boy is in a great city
Alone with a sick mother
In a cold damp cellar
Starving
He touches his mother
So cold is she
Dead cold
It’s dark in the cellar
And the boy is haunted by barking from a ferocious dog
He ventures up to the unknown street

He recalls thousands of barking howling packs of dogs in his home town
In this unknown place, stone streets are frozen with snow
Steam hangs from the mouths of horses
A policeman turns to avoid him

Another street
This one lit by lights
And a glass window with a marvelous tree
Decorated with toys and apples and many lights
Pretty children dressed in best clothes play
And on a table yellow, red, and almond cakes
A lady hands him a kopek
But it rolls away
And he cries, poor wretched little, little boy
Another glass window
With dolls dressed in green and red
So real he laughs
A big wicked boy knocks him down
So he hides behind a wood stack
He warms up
Sleeps
And hears his mother sing

A soft voice calls, “Come to my Christmas tree”
A bright light!
Another tree, like he’s never seen
Bright
With boys and girls flying
They kiss him
His joy-filled mother laughs

This is the Christmas tree of Christ
For children frozen
Foundlings
Suffocated
Starved
Died of bad air
Angels and crying mothers
Flying, kissing, and happy children

“The Heavenly Christmas Tree” was written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1876.

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GK Stritch

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GK Stritch is a contributor to Beatdom and the author of CBGB Was My High School. The book is available at the St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City, and amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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