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John Betjeman on Christmas

2013 December 23
by Gordon Reid
1112_04

 

 

I love ┬áJohn Betjeman’s poem “Christmas”. Here are the last four stanzas:

“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.”

 

 

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