Christmas by R.S.Thomas
from collection Not That He Brought Flowers 1988
There is a morning;
Time brings it nearer,
Brittle with frost
And starlight. The owls
In the parishes. The people rise
And walk to the churches’
Stone lanterns, there to kneel
And eat the new bread
Of love, washing it down
With the sharp taste
Of blood they will shed.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL BLOG READERSRS Thomas was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who was ‘noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales.’ His memorable and not-always-cheering poems suggest a formidable and unfathomable man, with a strong faith and a great curiosity about the world around him. And rather grumpy.
Not That He Brought Flowers, the name of this collection, sounds like something from Wendy Cope or Bridget Jones: it is about a man not bringing a woman flowers, and is the first line of a poem called Concession. It is, I think, meant to be stern but endearing, though I found it grudging and comfortless.
I hope all your Christmases are happier.
Picture from the Athenaeum: 100 years before Thomas’s poem, but he certainly is a writer who suggests days long past and an unchanging world.
Christmas Prayers (or ‘Morning Sevice’) by Henry Bacon - 1872