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Ranald's Collection of Sayings and Verses
Animal Christmas

by Vera Day
Published in ‘The Lady’ 22/29 Dec. 1983

Legend has it that on Christmas Eve the Glastonbury Thorn flowers at midnight and this is the hour the gift of speech is given to the animal kingdom for a brief while.

White in the west the snow drifts lay
On bough and bridge and thorn,
Swept by the winds across the world
As when our Lord was born.
Hard in the land the waters froze,
Rigid and furrows lay,
Silent the stars as on the first
Unnoticed Christmas day.

I saw them there - a company
Of beasts of every size;
They waited for the midnight thorn
With bright and patient eyes.
The ox was there, the ass, of course,
And he who bore a King;
The camel from Arabia
With myrrh for suffering.

Two sparrows (cost: one farthing) came
And sheltered on a tree,
The robin, too That plucked a thorn
One day in Galilee.
That plucked a thorn from out the crown
Set on the Savior’s head;
The dog that licked the poor man’s sores,
(For so the Gospel said).

The serpent to his wisdom clung,
Conscious of low estate.
The swine, condemned at Gadara
To swift, destructive fate.
Now with the lambs the harmless doves
All well contented stood;
Even two small fishes came
Though offered once for food.

‘Foxes have holes.’ The Savior said, but two had left the lair;
The colt which no man rode but he
Had come to worship there.
Who was the horse I saw that night ?
‘He rescued long ago.
The man beset by thieves upon
The road to Jericho’

As midnight struck the leaves did break
And blossom on the thorn,
And all that tree stood flowering white
As when our Lord was born.
For one brief hour the beasts could speak.
‘Oh men’ they cried, ‘Behold !
The world rolls on two thousand years,
We suffer as of old.’

‘ We served our Savior and we serve
You mortal men the same
Though some of us are wild and bold,
And some are all too tame.
But wild or tame we die that you
May live. We pray you show
Compassion on our little day
As through the world you go.’

The moonlight shone on fur and wing,
On gentle scapegoat eyes.
‘Grant, Lord,’ I cried. ‘These beasts who die
Like us, one day shall rise !
For what will Paradise avail,
Though saint and angels roam,
If there be not one lark to sing
As on the hills of home ?’

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