Monday, December 31, 2012

Vassar Miller*

Vassar Miller (1924—1998) is the author of ten poetry books, including If I Had Wheels or Love (1991) her collected poems. She has a strong reputation within her home state of Texas, but is not well known beyond its borders. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her second collection Wage War on Silence. Leon Stokesbury in 1988 referred to her as “Texas’s greatest poet”.

She suffered her whole life with cerebral palsy, and lived in Houston’s museum district. She was often seen riding her motorized cart to church or to the creative writing classes she taught at the University of St. Thomas. “Sometimes it would tip over and she would laugh,” said a rector at the Episcopal church she attended. “She had raucous laughter.”

The University of North Texas Press has named an annual poetry award in her honour.

Lullaby after Christmas

Little Child sleep softly,
Mary’s lullaby,
Worship of the shepherds,
Anthems from on high
May postpone the message:
You are born to die.

Little Child sleep softly,
To the tinkling coffer
Of the Three Kings bearing
Gifts they humbly offer
Lest the myrrh remind you
You are born to suffer.

Little Child sleep softly,
Ass and sheep adore You,
Hoping that their breath may
Warm the way before you.
Sharper than the horns of
Oxen, nails will gore you.

Little Child sleep softly,
Blood of babies slain
Near Your crib foreshadows
Yours in its deep stain.
Even God has right to
Peace before His pain.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Vassar Miller: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: