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Poem for the Day

Posted: 21 December 2013

Mile after mile we went, fighting against the wind, falling into snowdrifts, and navigating by the lights of the houses. And yet we never saw our audience. We called at house after house; we sang in courtyards and porches, outside windows, or in the damp gloom of hallways; we heard voices from hidden rooms; we smelt rich clothes and strange hot food; we saw maids bearing in dishes or carrying away coffee cups; we received nuts, cakes, figs, preserved ginger, dates, cough-drops and money; but we never once saw our patrons.

Eventually we approached our last house high up on the hill, the place of Joseph the farmer. For him we had chosen a special carol, which was about the other Joseph, so that we always felt that singing it added a spicy cheek to the night.

We grouped ourselves round the farmhouse porch. The sky cleared and broad streams of stars ran down over the valley and away to Wales. On Slad's white slopes, seen through the black sticks of its woods, some red lamps burned in the windows.

Everything was quiet: everywhere there was the faint crackling silence of the winter night. We started singing, and we were all moved by the words and the sudden trueness of our voices. Pure, very clear, and breathless we sang:

'As Joseph was walking
He heard an angel sing;
'This night shall be the birth-time
Of Christ the Heavenly King.
He neither shall be bored
In Housen nor in hall
Not in a place of paradise
But in an ox's stall.'

And two thousand Christmases became real to us then; The houses, the halls, the places of paradise had all been visited; The stars were bright to guide the Kings through the snow; and across the farmyard we could hear the beasts in their stalls. We were given roast apples and hot mince pies, in our nostrils were spices like myrrh, and in our wooden box, as we headed back for the village, there were golden gifts for all.

Carol Barking from Cider With Rosie
Laurie Lee

Christmas Haiku #21

Posted: 21 December 2013

So this year instead
Of just wrapping your conscience,
Be the gift yourself.

Take time to make time;
Make your presence the present,
Given from the heart.

Bill Adair

Poem for the Day

Posted: 20 December 2013

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Christmas
John Betjeman

Christmas Haiku #20

Posted: 20 December 2013

Now from far away,
Strangers, disguised as family,
Exchange guilty gifts.

Bill Adair

Poem for the Day

Posted: 19 December 2013

You never saw such a stupid mess,
The government of course, were to blame.
That poor young kid in her shabby dress
And the old chap with her, it seemed such a shame.

She had the baby in the backyard shed,
It wasn’t very nice, but the best we could do.
Just fancy, a manger for a bed,
I ask you, what’s the world coming to?

We’re sorry they had to have it so rough,
But we had our troubles, too, remember,
As if all the crowds were not enough
The weather was upside-down for December.

There was singing everywhere, lights in the sky
And those drunken shepherds neglecting their sheep
And three weird foreigners in full cry –
You just couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Well now they’ve gone, we can all settle down,
There’s room at the inn and the streets are so still
And we’re back to normal in our little town
That nobody’s heard of, or ever will.

And though the world’s full of people like those,
I think of them sometimes, especially her,
And one can't help wondering…though I don’t suppose
Anyone will ever know who they were.

Never Again
Harri Webb

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