Award-winning writer and translator George Szirtes is renowned for writing poems with haunting, lyrical qualities, deeply inspired by an intimate connection to time, place and imagery. Here, he provides examples of his most festive work, ahead of his special Christmas poetry workshop taking place at WCN, Dragon Hall in December. 

Dialogue for Christmas

This white year arrives and leaves,

her gift of boxes crammed with time.

Tomorrow and tomorrow, chime

the little bells to warn off thieves,

but thieves ubiquitous as frost

have entered here and time is lost.

 

Here they come, the Eastern Kings,

laden down with Other Things

fit to please both man and God.

Their boxes open in a flood

of colours bright and cold as snow

that cheer the heart before they go.

 

What arrives in frost and snow?

 

The broken branch, the late white night,

a word or echo of delight.

 

Whose word is that?

I do not know.

 

Carol

Come ox and ass, come dog and cat!

The animals move through the field

towards a stable of the mind

where something is to be revealed,

something bright, momentous, rich

to sing earth to a higher pitch.

 

Across the field the city glows;

the people shift from work to home;

the lights are steady in the tube;

the moonlight silvers the great dome:

dome and spire and roof and mind

contain the hopes of humankind.

 

Out there, beyond, within, beneath,

the lights are glimmering like stars:

Come to us now, come now! they cry.

The moonlight strikes off speeding cars.

Cars and chariots burn in dreams

and everywhere light runs and streams.

 

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