Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Poetry (again...)

Skipping lightly over the 18th and 19th centuries, on the basis that all the good Christmas poems have been set to music and are widely known, let's explore some of the byways of the 20th century. We may even end up in the 21st - but not today.

Here is a verse by Stevie Smith, for whom I've always had a certain fondness since seeing the play Stevie in 1977 starring, if I remember aright, Glenda Jackson. It was written by Hugh Whitemore, more famous for Breaking the Code. 

This is, I think, typically idiosyncratic.


A child is born, they cry, a child,
And he is Noble and not Mild
(It is the child that makes them wild).

The King sits brooding on his throne
He looks around and calls a man:
My men bring me a heavy stone.

My men bring me a purple robe
And bring me whips and iron goad.
They brought them to him where he strode.

My men bring gold and bring incense
And fetch all noble children at once
That I shall never take offence.

The men fetched the noble children away
They lifted them up and cried: Hurray.
The King sat back and clapped their play.

All noble mild children are brought home
To the wicked King who has cast them down
And ground their bones on the heavy stone.

But the child that is Noble and not Mild
He lies in his cot. He is unbeguiled.
He is Noble, he is not Mild,
And he is born to make men wild.

Stevie Smith

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