Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Morning by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

Christmas Morning

If Bethlehem were here today,
Or this were very long ago,
There wouldn't be a winter time
Nor any cold or snow.

I'd run out through the garden gate,
And down along the pasture walk;
And off beside the cattle barns
I'd hear a kind of gentle talk.

I'd move the heavy iron chain
And pull away the wooden pin;
I'd push the door a little bit
And tiptoe very softly in.

The pigeons and the yellow hens
And all the cows would stand away;
Their eyes would open wide to see
A lady in the manger hay,

If this were very long ago
And Bethlehem were here today.

And Mother held my hand and smiled—
I mean the lady would—and she
Would take the woolly blankets off
Her little boy so I could see.

His shut-up eyes would be asleep,
And he would look like our John,
And he would be all crumpled too,
And have a pinkish color on.

I'd watch his breath go in and out.
His little clothes would all be white.
I'd slip my finger in his hand
To feel how he could hold it tight.

And she would smile and say, "Take care,"
The mother, Mary, would, "Take care";
And I would kiss his little hand
And touch his hair.

While Mary put the blankets back
The gentle talk would soon begin.
And when I'd tiptoe softly out
I'd meet the wise men going in.
--Elizabeth Madox Roberts

This is another poem I found in my Children's Lit class at BYU. I don't remember what book it's from, but I photocopied the pages because I really liked the illustration, in soft pastels, of a little girl of about 3 or four tiptoeing in to see baby Jesus. She kind of reminds me of the little angel from mom's porcelain nativity set.

I like how the little girl keeps getting confused about whether she and her mom are looking at her little brother, or Mary is letting her look at the baby Jesus. It's a good reminder that we can find Christ in all kinds of things around us.

Finally I like the fact that it has a definite rhythm and rhyme, it is a children's poem after all, but that they're subtle. You could read this poem to a little child in a soft quiet conversational voice, pointing to each thing in the picture as you read about it, without being forced into a sing-song rhythm and tone like many nursery rhymes have.

I've been thinking a lot about little babies and children lately (I wonder why), and I hope that you'll share this poem with a little one in your life this Christmas.


  1. maybe sometime you could scan the cute little girl. BTW, Yoda is hanging out in the nativity scene again this year: at the moment he is conversing with the shepherd boy and his dog.

  2. I could...but it's a very bad photocopy. It's more of a reminder of a picture, than a good picture in itself.