Friday, 23 December 2011

'Christmas' by John Betjeman

This is a wonderful poem but I have only reproduced the last three stanzas. Please read on and you will see why.

'And is it true? and is it true?

The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?


And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant.

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.'



The plight of the children in Gaza who suffer everyday and witness death and destruction is something that I want people to remember this Christmas. Below is a poem that I wrote for a production called 'Letters to Gaza' run by The Calders Bookshop in London to remember the hardship of Palestinians. I can never know what it is like to be a child in Gaza or Israel so I do not take sides. I have previously blogged about Jewish children too.

http://childrenofgazafund.org/

Children of Gaza
It’s just the luck of birth,
That keeps us at separate ends of the Earth,
That doesn’t mean I forget you,
I won’t just sit and stew,
I will try and fight for you,
Try not to feel too blue,
Whatever happened to your life?
It’s all just suffering and strife,
The poor children of Gaza.

Why at such a young age,
Are you in a cage?
Always hiding,
Your confidence is sliding,
Surrounded by sadness,
Chaos and madness,
It really isn’t your fault,
That all your happiness was locked up in a vault,
The poor children of Gaza.

Where is the democracy?
You are shot at with accuracy,
You stand no chance,
When the soldiers are in a trance,
A trance to kill,
There’s nothing for you to leave in a will,
Many people have died,
You have cried,
The poor children of Gaza.

You don’t want the blockade,
Or the grenades,
It’s wrong you have to play with bullets,
Which rain down like comets,
Your siblings are dead,
You don’t like to think how much they bled,
You still have nightmares,
Where no one ever dares,
To save you from the soldiers,
The poor children of Gaza.

There’s still a bit of hope,
That one day there’ll be a rope,
That’ll pull you out of all this,
Wouldn’t that be bliss?
Your friends are always there,
Or someone who cares,
But there’s death lurking,
Soldiers are working,
At least you are still alive,
One day happiness will arrive,
For the poor children of Gaza.



Me reading my poem at the Gaza Evening November 2011
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