Recently in Christmas Category

Christmas Eve at Christmas Hills by Kathleen Dalziel

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Here are no merry bells achime,  
   No midnight carols heard;   
Only the windmill's clanking rhyme,   
   The slow creek's whispered word;
The cricket songs of summer time,
   The calling of a bird.   

Yet one may think on Bethlehem,  
   Nor deem it very far,
Where little fields the farmstead hem
   And flocks all drowsy are;
Where in the green west like a gem
   Hangs one grave, lovely star.

The sleeping range and valley wear
   So soft an air and mild,
Somewhere up in the sky I heal  
   A black swan's bugle wild.   
And, past the lighted window square,
   The laughter of a child.

And Love comes in that little gate
   And all his gifts receive,   
Where heavenly peace and quiet wait
   Day's burden to relieve --
We need no bells to celebrate
   Our own sweet Christmas Eve.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 1938

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Fairy Bells by Mabel Forrest

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The fairies rang the Christmas Bells 
At 12 o'clock last night!  
I heard the rain trail down the street, 
Her fingers pale and light,
And yet they spoke, those flower-bells, 
Of colour, warm and bright!  

Orange and red I seemed to see 
On their tall stems asway.
I thought of misty Hawkesbury hills, 
Of river reach and bay,
Until they opened wide the gates 
Of pleasant Far Away.

The fairies rang the Christmas Bells!   
The sky was black with cloud,
Yet through the wash of wind and rain 
Those flower-chimes were loud:
And somehow I was glad of them, 
And somehow I was proud.

First published in The Courier-Mail, 24 November 1933

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Spatch and Dispatch by C.J. Dennis

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"Spatchcock," said we, with a lordly smile and a self-complacent air.
"Spatchcock," said we, as we licked our lips and bade our guests prepare.
For the feast grew fat by the barnyard door with the high fence all around;
And the peas grew plump, and the cress was green, and the axe was newly ground.
"Spatchcock," said we, "to feed a man as the gods were wont to feed.
On very especial table birds of a very especial breed."

Do the wild things know when Christmas comes in the fullness of the year?
Do they mark the tender cockerels wax as the festival draws near?
Else, why should brown fox count the days, and still restrain his greed?
Till the very day and the very hour when the best shall serve his need?
"Spatchcock," we'd said, "with tater chips, and all browned to a turn!"
How could we know that other eyes were watching from the fern?

"Spatchcock," we'd said, and licked our lips.  Ah, pity those who grieve!
He came with the first grey light of dawn on the morn of Christmas Eve;
And he climbed the fence as a possum climbs.  Hoop-la! and he was o'er;
And once he came, and twice he came, and three times more.
"Spatchcock," we'd gloated greedily. Ah, do not mock our grief!
For who makes wassail heartily on a dish of cold corned beef?

We hadn't the heart for plump green peas, or cress, or tater ships.
But, out somewhere in the secret scrub, brown fox, he licks his lips,
And the runs of six fat cockerels about his lair explain
Our lack of six especial birds of a very especial strain.
But, more than all this vexes us: How should brown fox conceive
That the zero hour for his ruthless raid was the dawn of Christmas Eve?

First published in The Herald, 26 December 1935

A Bush Christmas by C.J. Dennis

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The sun burns hotly thro' the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes --
   The hatter from the lonely hut
   Beside the track to Woollybutt.
      He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
   Gets sort of settled in his way;
   And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.

Dad and the boys have nought to do,
Except a stray odd job or two.
   Along the fence or in the yard,
   "It ain't a day for workin' hard."
Says Dad.  "One day a year don't matter much."
And then dishevelled, hot and red,
Mum, thro' the doorway puts her head
   And says, "This Christmas cooking, My!
   The sun's near fit for cooking by."
Upon her word she never did see such.

"Your fault," says Dad, "you know it is.
Plum puddin'!  on a day like this,
   And roasted turkeys!  Spare me days,
   I can't get over women's ways.
      In climates such as this the thing's all wrong.
A bit of cold corned beef an' bread
Would do us very well instead."
   Then Rogan said, "You're right; it's hot.
   It makes a feller drink a lot."
      And Dad gets up and says, "Well, come along."

The dinner's served -- full bite and sup.
"Come on," says Mum, "Now all sit up."
   The meal takes on a festive air;
   And even father eats his share
      And passes up his plate to have some more.
He laughs and says it's Christmas time,
"That's cookin', Mum. The stuffin's prime."
   But Rogan pauses once to praise,
   Then eats as tho' he'd starved for days.
      And pitches turkey bones outside the door.

The sun burns hotly thro' the gums,
The chirping of the locusts comes
   Across the paddocks, parched and grey.
   "Whew!" wheezes Father. "What a day!"
      And sheds his vest.  For coats no man had need.
Then Rogan shoves his plate aside
And sighs, as sated men have sighed,
   At many boards in many climes
   On many other Christmas times.
      "By gum!" he says, "That was a slap-up feed!"

Then, with his black pipe well alight,
Old Rogan brings the kids delight
   By telling o'er again his yarns
   Of Christmas tide 'mid English barns
      When he was, long ago, a farmer's boy.
His old eyes glisten as he sees
Half glimpses of old memories,
   Of whitened fields and winter snows,
   And yuletide logs and mistletoes,
   And all that half-forgotten, hallowed joy.

The children listen, mouths agape,
And see a land with no escape
   For biting cold and snow and frost --
   A land to all earth's brightness lost,
      A strange and freakish Christmas land to them.
But Rogan, with his dim old eyes
Grown far away and strangely wise
   Talks on; and pauses but to ask
   "Ain't there a drop more in that cask?"
   And father nods; but Mother says "Ahem!"

The sun slants redly thro' the gums
As quietly the evening comes,
   And Rogan gets his old grey mare,
   That matches well his own grey hair,
      And rides away into the setting sun.
"Ah, well," says Dad.  "I got to say
I never spent a lazier day.
   We ought to get that top fence wired."
   "My!" sighs poor Mum.  "But I am tired!
      An' all that washing up still to be done."

First published in The Herald, 24 December 1931;
and later in
More than a Sentimental Bloke, 1990.

Those Christmas Shoppers by C.J. Dennis

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Here they come -- the Christmas shoppers!
Harried "Mums" and weary "Poppers" --
   Here they plod on suffering feet.
   All the family complete.
Eager urchin, wide-eyed maiden,
Each with many a parcel laden;
   Lagging, loitering; on once more,
   Into yet another store.
Way, make way for Christmas shoppers!
Bane of tortured traffic "coppers" --
   Dashing out to beat the light;
   Dashing back in sudden fright.
Popper meets a friend, and beckons.
"Won't be long, Mum.  Coupla secon's."
   Mum says, "Well, then, hurry -- thro.
   We've still got a dozen shops to do."
Hurry on, there, Christmas shoppers,
Window gazers, parcel droppers!...
   Popper comes back, looking vague;
   Says this shopping is a plague.
Mum says, "Well!  You ought to grumble."
Pop says, "Sorry," and looks humble.
   Round the corner, on once more,
   Drifting round from store to store.
Pass along, then, Christmas shoppers!
"Look!  Balloons, Mum!  Oo what whoppers!"
   Mum says, "Hurry!  Goodness me,
   I've simply got to have some tea!"
Sign that dull depression's lifting,
Christmas shoppers, see them drifting.
   See them buying.  Dread is done.
   "A Merry Christmas, everyone!"

First published in The Herald, 20 December 1933

Xmas at Brady's Gap by C.J. Dennis

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Ho, the pleasures uv a cockie's life is as scanty as the rain
   An' it aint the rustic bliss thet some supposes;
Tho' its fur frum hurry-scurry, it's a 'ternal toil and worry,
   'Long a path thet's strewed with cockspur 'stid uv roses.
But once a year, in lonesome Brady's Gap afar away,
   The world takes on a tone a trifle bright,
With the races held in Billy Nolan's paddick Chris'mas day,
   An' the darnce in Brady's barn a Chris'mas night.

'E slings aside the cares uv life, the 'arrers an' the plough,
  A day an' night in joyfulness 'e's swimmin'.
'E grooms 'is faithful neddy, an' 'e togs 'imself out reddy,
   Fer a flutter with the 'orses and the wimmin;
An' ev'ry cove thet owns a moke, thet's gaime to raise a trot,
   An' aint too sore, or lame, 'e brings it up.
You mightn't call 'em racers, but they're pretty even pacers,
  An' the finishes ud lick a Melbun Cup.

Pat Casey, frum the shanty, 'as the right to fix a booth
   In the middle uv the paddick in the sun;
An' fore the fall uv night there's a muchal sorter fight,
   W'en Casey's fightin' beer is gettin' done.
Ther's scraps an' shindies ev'rywhere towards the close uv day,
   Fer ev'ry race is bound to be protested,
Until the flutter's run in the settin' uv the sun,
   An', barring Casey, most uv us is bested.

The coves thet's fairly sober 'as some tucker and a wash,
   An' gets the bits uv paddick off their clothes;
Then 'aving got the ladies, we makes a move to Brady's,
   An' stan's around the barn in sep'rate rows.
So it's start the old accorjin to the chune uv a quadrille,
   An' get the couples paired an' put to rights;
Then the comp'ny pegs away till dawnin' uv the day,
   With intervals between fer drinks and fights.

That's the annual injoyment thet the simple rustics meet,
   In this rain-forsaken land, w'ere joy is scant --
W'ere the cockie has illusions 'e kin raise a crop uv wheat,
   An' th' Almighty 'as convictions thet 'e can't.
It's the only bit uv color in a life thet's dull an' gray,
   It's the single joy we have to keep in sight:
Lookin' forward to the meetin' in the paddick Chris'mas Day,
   An' the darnce in Brady's barn a Chris'mas night.

First published in The Critic, 14 December 1901

Christmas by Robert Adams

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In the good old times of England,
   The merrie times of yore,
Our fathers kept the Christmas feast
   A dozen days or more:  
A spacious hall and ashler work 
   Was hung with evergreen,
The mistletoe from the old oak bough,
   And the holly there were seen. 

A table in the midst was spread,
   A table long and wide --
And ancient knight and lady fair 
   Were seated side by side;  
The door upon its hinges swung
   For tenant and for lord,
And sparkling eyes and ruddy cheeks 
   Were ranged around the board.

The feast was in profusion spread,
   Enough for all to eat,
Hot frumenty at breakfast
   Of milk and husked meat.
Roast beef and goose and pudding
   Made up the dinner cheer;   
And everybody finished off
   With tankards of good beer.

And in the tall old chimney place
   (The glowing hearth between),
The young folks cracking nuts and jokes
   On seats of stone are seen -- 
And thus relates the chronicle :
   "The sons and daughters fair  
Made up their matches all at home,
   Nor went away to pair."

The trees bent low with glittering snows
   The frost is on the brake,
The winds held carnival show
   In many a forest lane.
But while stern winter raged without
   'Twas summer in the hail,
Where met our glorious ancestors
   To keep the festival.

A health then to the good old times
   Of tenant, page, and squire,
Of massive hall, and groaning board,
   And blazing Christmas fire --
Where youthful hearts had naught of care,
   And hoary age grew green,
And gallant knights and ladies fair
   On all the land were seen.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 December 1879

Author reference site: Austlit 

See also.

The Tree by Dorothea Dowling

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The ritual of Christmas does not change.
Each year there's much the same routine,
When last year's lid is lifted from the box
Revealing tawdry tinsel, red and green,
To decorate the tree again this year;
The tarnished silver star to crown its peak,
With new adornments added to the old
Selected from the chain store through the week. 
For in the mystery of the candlelight
We feel these symbols shine as pure gold -- 
With every heart a child's at Christmas-time
Responding to this season, young and old.

Would that this childish spirit could survive
To light the burdens of the year to be,
As simple people wish  each other joy
Around the candles of their Christmas tree.

First published in The Australian Women's Weekly, 25 December 1963

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

Christmas in Exile by Mary Corringham

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Christmas, the queen of summer, nears the strand.   
The countryside is gold from end to end   
With bush and bells, that a sweet message send  
To every corner of this southern land.   

The skies are lit as with a glowing brand;   
River and sea in tints of azure blend;     
Until it seems the gods themselves unbend,   
And grant their blessings with a lavish hand.  
But I have seen the clustered berries grow 
Scarlet against the holly's glossy sheen;   
Have scattered crumbs upon a drift of snow, 
And fed stray robins on the gorse-clad green. 
Though Home is grey with cloud and winter sleet,       
I would her country ways lay at my feet.    

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 1927

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Yule Fever by C. J. Dennis

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I must go down to the shops again, to the crowded shops go I
And all I have is a long list of the gifts that I must buy,
And a few bob in the old kick and a mere spot of credit;
For he'll trust me, so the boss said, but I hate the way he said it.

I must go down to the shops again, for the call of Christmastide
Is a stern call and a hard call that may not be denied.
And all I ask is a fair choice at reasonable prices
And a hard heart for bland blokes with blandishing devices.

I must go down to the shops again.  There's gifts for Mum and Dad
And Jim's gift and Joe's gift and toy for Peter's lad.
Then all I want are gloves for Clare?  And June?  I'll send her roses,
And -- who's next?  The list says -- I've lost it!  Holy Moses!

But I must go down to the shops again, to the shops and the milling crowd
On a hot day and a fierce day when the skies know ne'er a cloud;
And all I ask is a fair spin 'mid the masses overheating
And the loud bawl of the bored babe, and the toy drums beating.

I must go down to the shops again, for I would be counted still
With the kind coves of the free hand in this season of goodwill;
And all I ask is a stout heart to carry on undaunted
While we scour town for the salt-pot that we know Aunt Annie wanted.

I must go down to the shops again, for they'll ply me, sure as fate
With the pink tie and the puce sock, and I must reciprocate.
But all I ask is a long seat when the weary trek is finished
And enough left for the Yule feast ere the bank-roll be diminished.

First published in The Herald, 4 December 1935;
and later in
Random Verse by C.J. Dennis, 1952.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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