Poetry Advent Calendar: 20th December

The Crib


They are making a crèche at the Saturday morning classes

For the Christmas party: scissors and paper vie

With fingers and plasticine until there are masses

Of sheep and shepherds that kneel and stand and lie,


And cotton-batting angels with cellophane wings

And a golded cardboard star and string to guide it

And pipe-cleaner camels carrying tinfoil kings

And a real straw manger with Joseph and Mary beside it.


But the manger is empty. The Saturday classes contain

So many different faiths, there is danger

Of giving offence; there was once no room in the inn,

Now there is no room for him in the manger.


Of course he will understand, his love is hearty

Enough to forgive and forget the being slighted

And true enough not to offend at the birthday party

By showing up where he is uninvited.


Besides he is long accustomed to the manners

Of centuries that consecrate the snub

Of Christmas honoured, not the one it honours.

Strange they should trouble to give the crèche a crib.

Robert Finch


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