I am Joseph, carpenter,
Of David’s kingly line,
I wanted an heir, discovered
My wife’s son wasn’t mine.
I am an obstinate lover,
Loved Mary for better or worse.
Wouldn’t stop loving when I found
Someone Else came first.
Mine was the likeness I hoped for
When the first-born man-child came
But nothing of him was me, I couldn’t
Even choose his name.
I am Joseph who wanted
To teach my own boy how to live.
My lesson for my foster son:
Endure. Love. Give.
U A Fanthorpe (1929-2009)
Ursula Fanthorpe is one of my all time favourite poets and this poem is the one I like best of her Christmas poems, although it was a difficult choice. I hope to add more of her poems in the future.
James Joseph Jacques Tissot (1836–1902)
A French painter born to a family of Italian descent in the port town of Nantes who spent much of his career in Great Britain. It is probable that his parents’ involvement in the fashion industry influenced his attention to detail in women’s clothing during his career and his youth spent in Nantes contributed to his frequent depiction of ships and boats in his later works. Tissot travelled to Paris to pursue an education in art. Around this time, Tissot made the acquaintance of James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet. Tissot fought in the Franco-Prussian War as part of the improvised defense of Paris leaving Paris for London in 1871 and quickly developed a reputation as a painter of elegantly dressed women shown in scenes of fashionable life. In 1885, Tissot experienced a re-conversion to Catholicism, which led him to spend the rest of his life illustrating the Bible. To assist in his completion of biblical illustrations, he travelled to the Middle East making studies of the landscape and people with the ensuing series of 365 gouache illustrations of the life of Christ shown to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences. Tissot spent the last years of his life working on paintings of subjects from the Old Testament, although these were never completed. Tissot died in Doubs, France.