My tree is decorated, the weather is finally cold, and our silly little office lights are on. Time for another Patrick Kavanagh poem:
A Christmas Childhood
My father played the melodion
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east;
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodion called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
Outside in the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy’s hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon – the Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
“Can’t he make it talk” –
The melodion, I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade –
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodion,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.
The full poem is actually longer; I can’t find the first four stanzas online. I copied the whole thing into five or six of my Christmas cards on Saturday night. Then I got bored and far too inky to continue.