A Christmas Childhood

A Christmas Childhood


Patrick Kavanagh

(Bealtaine Cottage in the snow…looking down the driveway in the week before Christmas, 2010.)

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.

(Bealtaine Cottage in the winter of 2010, just coming into the driveway.)

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 childhood’s. 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.

My father played the melodeon

Outside at our gate;

There were stars in the morning east

And they danced to his music.

(A winter sky at Bealtaine Cottage in the frozen winter of 2010)

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.

(The Blackbird at Bealtaine Cottage.)

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.

(Moon-rise before Midwinter at Bealtaine Cottage, 2010.)

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.

(Bealtaine Cottage in a snowstorm, Christmas 2010.)

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 Patrick Kavanagh

You have been reading a blog from “Bealtaine Cottage”.

There is now a second website:  Bealtaine Cottage Good Life  which is accessible through subscription, 12 euros per year, allowing me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her. 

This once-a-year subscription supports  the work of Bealtaine Cottage across ALL of social media.

Click on button below to join the website…

Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

8 thoughts on “A Christmas Childhood

  1. Oh my gosh I have muddled his name… Patrick Kavanagh…not Paul… so sorry… and in looking him up on the net I’ve found another Irish poet James Liddy who some how came up when I searched for Patrick. I am so grateful for all the new authors and poets and traditions I am discovering as a result of your blog. One of your bloggers mentioned Diana Beresford-Kroeger and what a treasure she is. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a heart warming verse. All the beautiful sights and sounds of Christmas experienced through a small child’s soul. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poetry. I am awestruck by the beautiful pics of Bealtaine Cottage the winter of 2012. Your whole land is like a Currier and Ives Christmas card in itself. What a delight to look out your window to such wonder and beauty. Thank you for sharing the poetry of Paul Kavanagh. I look forward to reading more of his works. I hope that I am posting this comment in the correct place. Still finding my way around the blog. This post is being made Oct 15 2015. Blessings to you always.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How beautiful the fallen snow and the words. My I always be able to see natures beauty and hear natures poetry with in this deep beauty.


It's lovely to hear from you! Please consider subscribing to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life...there's a link at the top of this page! Blessings XXX

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s