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"The Magic of Christmas lingers on thought childhood days have passed upon the
common round of life, a holy spell is cast...."
Old Irish Poem 

By Ruth and Celia Duffin

A cup of milk

And a wheaten-cake,

And a spark of fire

For the Travelers’ sake.


A door on the latch,

A light in the pane,

Lest the Travelers’ pass

In the wind and rain.


For food and fire

And candlelight

The Travelers’ blessing

On us this night


By Adam Christianson

When harpers once in wooden hall

A shining chord would strike

Their songs like arrows pierced the soul

Of great and low alike

Aglow by hearth and candle flame

From burning branch to ember

The mist of all their music sang

As if to ask in wonder

Is there a moment quite as keen

Or memory as bright

As light and fire and music (sweet)

To warm the winter's night?

By Johnny Cunningham

The dark of winter wraps around us tight.

The lamps are fired, and flickering light

beats time to the fiddle as notes float softly down, like the years' first snow.

While outside the window a blast of late December wind

whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.

We push the old year back against the wall

so we can dance a jig for Christmas and welcome in the new

(9th century Irish Poem)

I have news for you:

The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone

Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course

The sea running high.

Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;

The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,

cold has seized the birds' wings;

season of ice, this is my news

(from The Kilmore Carols)

The darkest midnight in December
No snow nor hail nor winter storm
Shall hinder us for to remember
The Babe that on this night was born.
With shepherds, we are come to see
This lovely Infant's glorious charms.
Born of a Maid, as the prophet said,
The God of love in Mary's arms.

Ye blessed angels join our voices
Let your gilded wings beat fluttering o'er
While every sould set free rejoices
And everyone now must adore.
We'll sing and pray that he always may
Good people one and all defend
God grant us grace in all our days
A merry Christmas and a happy end.


(Sung to Greensleeves) 13th Century English
Translation By Lawrence Rosenwald

The olde year now away is fled,

The new year it is entered

Then let us now our sins downtread

And joyfully all appear

Let's be merry this holiday

And let us run with sport and play

Han sorrow, let's cast care away - 

God send you a happy new year

Come, give us more liquor when I do call

I'll drink to each one in this hall

I hope that so loud I must not bawl

But unto me lend me an ear

Good fortune to my master send

And to my dame which is our friend

God bless us all, and so I end

And God send us a happy new year


(Sung on St Stephen's Day, Dec. 26th while “Hunting the wren”)

The Wren, the Wren the king of all birds,

St. Stephenses day, he was caught in the furze.

Although he is little, his honor is great,

Rise up, kind sir, and give us a trate.


We followed this Wren ten miles or more 

Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow,

We up with our wattles and gave him a fall

And brought him here to show you all.


For we are the boys that came your way 

To bury the Wren on Saint Stephenses Day,

So up with the kettle and down with the pan!

Give us some help for to bury the Wren!


By Tommy Makem

WINTER, a sharp bitter day

the robin turns plump against the cold

the sun is week

silver faded from gold

he is late in his coming and short in his stay

Man, beast, bird and air all purging, all cleansing, 

earth already purified awaits the rite of spring

Her bridal gown a virgin snow and frosts in her hair

A snowdrop by the road today bowed gracefully 

and high upon the wing up in the sparkling nothingness, 

a lone bird began to sing

Can gentle spring be far away?

By Patrick Kavanagh (1905-67)

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost-

How wonderful that was, how wonderful

And when we put our ears to the paling-post

The music that came out was magical

The light between the ricks of hay and straw

Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree

With its December-glinting fruit we saw-

O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay

And death the germ within it! Now and then

I can remember something of the gay

Garden that was childhoods. Again

The tracks of Cattle to a drinking-place,

A green stone lying sideways in a ditch

Or any common sight the transfigured face

Of a beauty that the world did not touch.


By Patrick Kavanagh (1905-67)

My father played the melodeon

Outside at our gate

There were stars in the morning east

And they danced to his music.

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called

To Lennons and Callans.

As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry

I knew some strange thing had happened.

Outside in the cow-house my mother

Made the music of milking;

The light of her stable-lamp was a star

And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,

Mass-going feet

Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,

Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters

On the grey stone,

In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,

The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over

Cassidy's hanging hill,

I looked and three whin bushes rode across

The horizon-the Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:

'Can't he make it talk' - 

The melodeon. I hid in the doorway

And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post

With my penknife's big blade-

There was a little one for cutting tobacco.

And I was six Christmases of age.

My father played the melodeon,

My mother milked the cows,

And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned

On the Virgin Mary's blouse.


By Robert Frost

All out of doors looked darkly in at him

Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,

That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.

What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze

Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.

What kept him from remembering what it was

That brought him to that creaking room was age.

He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.

And having scared the cellar under him

In clomping there, he scared it once again

In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,

Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar

Of trees and crack of branches, common things,

But nothing so like beating on a box.

A light he was to no one but himself

Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,

A quiet light, and then not even that.

He consigned to the moon, such as she was,

So late-arising, to the broken moon

As better than the sun in any case

For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,

His icicles along the wall to keep;

And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt

Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,

And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.

One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,

A farm, a countryside, or if he can,

It's thus he does it of a winter night.



By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1864)

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

    And wild and sweet

    The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along

    The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,

    A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound

    The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn

    The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

    “For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

    The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”