Light, Cuil Phail, Iona
The Bread Of Beggars, The Wine Of Christ
Dublin, Christmas 1953
In Dublin’s streets
Around the way to Christmas
Eire’s orphan children cluster
Stashed in alleys, lost in sidewalks, cold in vestibules
There to chant and carol through the snowing winds
In nights of rains.
Their high and weather-tossed refrains
Sound Christ and his sweet breath
His sun-birth, not his death:
His greeting forth of wisdom in the land
Sings forth down every street on every hand
Enchants your hotel room where echoes of it
Time your shaving before supper,
And as you leave the hotel door
More sparrows rise, more orioles
And blackbirds sing
From out the Christmas pies that celebrate a holy King.
The bread of beggars, the wine of Christ,
Delivered with the falling white, it manifests
A wonder, such miracles of snow that
Melting on small tongues
Become his sweetly breathing life.
You move to wife the weather
Husband winds that knife and harrow
Strike your marrow, freeze it pale.
Yet all about in storefront jails
Stunned flocks of starlings
Driven to earth in winter flood
Of fogging heaven, raining thunder, God who lids
And bids them sing for their lost souls.
And so they sing in promises of love not pain
A time that was, is not, but will arrive again
To warm the land and stir our bloods.
These hearths of children know all Dublin’s neighbourhoods
In every corner, alley, shop
Where snow drifts like spun-candles:
There they hide. Would you abide their place?
Then lift your touch to every heartbeat face
The bright coals of their cheeks breathe charcoal pink
As if the bellows of their tiny starling lungs
Blew on them forcing fire and ash
And fire once more.
From every winter door they cry a last refrain
To burn downwind;
With Christ a fever in their eyes
They birth him forth in snow that melts to rain
In Dublin’s streets now once again
Hark! midnight church bells ring;
And echoing that sound of Christmas:
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions