Award-winning writer and translator George Szirtes is renowned for writing poems with haunting, lyrical qualities, deeply inspired by an intimate connection to time, place and imagery. Here, he provides examples of his most festive work, ahead of his special Christmas poetry workshop taking place at WCN, Dragon Hall in December.
Dialogue for Christmas
This white year arrives and leaves,
her gift of boxes crammed with time.
Tomorrow and tomorrow, chime
the little bells to warn off thieves,
but thieves ubiquitous as frost
have entered here and time is lost.
Here they come, the Eastern Kings,
laden down with Other Things
fit to please both man and God.
Their boxes open in a flood
of colours bright and cold as snow
that cheer the heart before they go.
What arrives in frost and snow?
The broken branch, the late white night,
a word or echo of delight.
Whose word is that?
I do not know.
Come ox and ass, come dog and cat!
The animals move through the field
towards a stable of the mind
where something is to be revealed,
something bright, momentous, rich
to sing earth to a higher pitch.
Across the field the city glows;
the people shift from work to home;
the lights are steady in the tube;
the moonlight silvers the great dome:
dome and spire and roof and mind
contain the hopes of humankind.
Out there, beyond, within, beneath,
the lights are glimmering like stars:
Come to us now, come now! they cry.
The moonlight strikes off speeding cars.
Cars and chariots burn in dreams
and everywhere light runs and streams.