Patrick Kavanagh

Christmas Eve Remembered

I see them going to the chapel To confess their sins. Christmas Eve In a parish in Monaghan. Poor parish! and yet memory does weave For me about those folk A romantic cloak. No snow, but in their minds The fields and roads are white; They may be talking of the turkey markets Or foreign politics, but to-night Their plain, hard country words Are Christ’s singing birds. Bicycles scoot by. Old women Cling to the grass margin: Their thoughts are earthy, but their minds move In dreams of the Blessed Virgin, For One in Bethlehem Has kept their dreams safe for them. ‘Did you hear from Tom this Christmas?’ ‘These are the dark days.’ ‘Maguire’s shop did a great trade, Turnover double – so Maguire says.’ ‘I can’t delay now, Jem, Lest I be late in Bethlehem.’ Like this my memory saw, Like this my childhood heard These pilgrims of the North… And memory you have me spared A light to follow them Who go to Bethlehem.

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