Friday, 24 December 2010

A poem for Christmas Eve

It is only today that I have felt a pang of nostalgia for those happy days we spent in Victorian Wessex. It seems like only last summer, and yet it was 162 years ago. Two whole generations have passed since we organised the well-attended "Three Village Idiots" performance of Nessun Dorma.

I remember young Tommy Hardy telling me about how he celebrated the traditional Victorian Christmas. On a snowy Christmas Eve - such as this one, indeed - the whole family would gather round a log fire and lose its faith. It was a simpler, more optimistic time.

Hardy wrote this poem in 1915 - a much less simple time - when faith in Progress was lost just as much as faith in God. And in many ways I feel it explains the Beaker religious philosophy.

Happy Christmas, and Gord bless us one an' all.


Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

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