Finding Christmas poems is difficult: I used the best Kipling one last week. Much of the early colonial ones were about the fact that most years it is hot at Christmas — and the hot food of England does not work. You have to be climbing one of the mountains to get a white Christmas.
“I shot a pigeon we made a fire and boiled the billy and made some tea out of tawa bark, I roasted the pigeon and we divided it amongst the six we had three corn dumplings and we camped that night in the valley…we put the barometer out and found it standing at freezing point…it was 25th December 1839”
Heberly. climbing Mt Egmont, 1939
This, however, is a pastiche of bush poetry written after that time in New Zealand. It is fairly good.
They were set for home when the horse went lame
And the rain came pelting out of the sky
Joe saw the hut and he went to look
And he said, ‘She’s old, but she’ll keep you dry”.
So her kid was born in that roadman’s shack
By the light of a lamp that’d hardly burn
She wrapped him up in her hubby’s coat
And put him down on a bed of fern.
Then they came riding out of the night
(And this is the thing that she’ll always swear)
As they took off their hats and came into the light
They knew they were going to find her there.
Three old jokers in oilskin coats
Stood by the bunk in that leaking shack
One had a beard like a billygoat’s
And one was frail and one was black.
She sat at the foot of the fernstalk bed
And she watched, but she didn’t understand
While they put these bundles at the baby’s head
And this river nugget into his hand.
Gold is the power of a man with a man
And incense the power of man with God
But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
And sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod.
Then they went, while she watched through the open door
Weary as men who have ridden too far
And the rain eased off and the low cloud broke
And through a gap shone a single star.
The Revd. Peter Cape (1926-1979)