This poem is taken from "A West Country Christmas" compiled by Chris Smith.
'It's not difficult to conjure up a picture of that marvellous man of Dorset literature, Thomas hardy, sitting by the fireside at Christmas time as the flickering light from the fireplace draws shadows on the walls - an atmosphere perfectly captured in this poem:
While I watch the Christmas blaze
Paint the room with ruddy rays,
Something makes my vision glide
To the frosty scene outside.
There, to reach a rotting berry,
Toils a thrush - constrained to very
Dregs of food by sharp distress,
Taking such with thankfulness.
Why, O starving bird,
When I one day's joy would justify
And put misery out of view,
Do you make me notice you?
Extract from "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas, because I cannot have a Christmas without mention of Cats!!!
Here is Jarvis, posing nicely. He is called Jarvis because we are - somewhat distantly I believe - related to musician Jarvis Cocker, through my mum's Battams family.
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.
Now for my favourite of Hardy's seasonal poems and I make no apology for repeating it year on year!
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,
"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.