Poem Hunter
! The Week Between Christmas And New Year
MS Michael Shepherd (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! The Week Between Christmas And New Year

These are the strange and dull and heavy days
(in the Northern Hemisphere at least –
we seldom spare a thought for what ordeal
our brothers and sisters, basking in the summer sun
are passing through in mind…)

For children, these are precious days, of course –
waking each morning to the knowledge of new toys—
(premature, by orthodox tradition – a birth, of course,
but not yet the presents that are due
to celebrate the Epiphany, the showing-forth of Love Itself)

but are there other gifts which grown-ups have not found,
buried in the garden soil, the frozen fields?
For it seems this week, as if the earth and nature
are caught up in some mighty pull
as this great globe itself rounds some vast narrow bend
and we with it; as if we are nature, earth as well:
aroused by some peremptory alarm clock
at some ungodly, godly hour,
to help push up the snowdrops from their roots
and all other things that must be stirring in the earth
to feed and flower.

Some esoterics say that these seven days
are rich with some strange octave in the mind
whose qualities are sensed within our music’s scale:
some universal starting power; reluctance; recovery;
faintheartedness; a sunny strength; need for authority;
yearning for completeness – these, they say,
are to be lived through in the mind;

these to be lightly seen and sung in heart;
best, in these over-eaten days, to participate
in joyous activities in company..

Others whose star is in the East
look for a sequence of twelve days of Christmas:
wisdom has set out from Persian lands afar
on its journey to acknowledge new-born love;
some old order gathered in the safe sheepfold of strict law
knowing in its wisdom, it’s now time –
the law known and secure -
to learn the new-born testament of love;

All this, buried in the Christmas tree’s root and branch,
the holly and the mistletoe, the alert, fierce robin
sitting on a needful spade,
the angel (wondering if it still has a place in our hearts,
but knowing the powers that its wand
may never lose)

In these strange and dull and heavy days
all this, all these, the presents yet to find,
we could not make or buy; lie wrapped in mind.

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Comments (2)

The time of the shortest days darkens our spirits after the glitz of Christmas. You have captured the ennui beautifully in your eloquent poem with just right portion of promise of warmer days.
I think this wonderfully eloquent and atmospheric, thought-provoking (cliche but true) piece deserves to be written in large letters and put up on my wall. For more than seven days. And especially the last stanza. M, truly superb. t x