Living in a Greek village in the early 1980s changed his life forever, says David Mason ’78, Colorado College Professor of English and department chair. The lingering influence of the experience comes through in much of Mason’s writings, including his most recent poem, which he calls “a rather unusual Christmas poem.”
The story told in “First Christmas in the village,” published in The New Criterion, is true, says Mason, and one that he had previously related in prose in his 2010 memoir, “News from the Village.” But Mason began to feel another rhythm for it while in England last Christmas, researching his wife's ancestors. “Once I began to retell the story in verse, it took on another life, with new details — none of them made up — getting more emphasis.”
Mason acknowledges his debt to skeptical Christmas poems by Thomas Hardy and T. S. Eliot, “and I know very well those poets were in my mind when I wrote this new version,” he says. “I wanted to emphasize the distance between the timeless ideal of Christmas — the love and peace so often lost in both Christian and commercial thinking — and the reality of an ordinary human life in time.”
The New Criterion was founded in 1982 by art critic Hilton Kramer and pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman. It is a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life, known particularly for its poems and trenchant reviews.