Wednesday Kipple.

It’s Advent. St Wilfrid was quite real, Eddi is probably his biographer.

There is a church at Mahood End, which is a real village.

But the saying of the mass and preaching to the animals may be a poetic conceit. Regardless, this is the best Kipling Christmas poems: his one about India is morose.

Eddi’s service.

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

“‘Wicked weather for walking,”
Said Eddi of Manhood End.
“But I must go on with the service
For such as care to attend.”

The altar-lamps were lighted, —
An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
Pushed in through the open door.

“How do I know what is greatest,
How do I know what is least?
That is My Father’s business,”
Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

“But — three are gathered together —
Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!”
Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
Eddi preached them The World,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
Said Eddi of Manhood End,
“I dare not shut His chapel
On such as care to attend.”

Rudyard Kipling, 1910

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2 years ago

I am in the process of preparing a Christmas celebration for people who yesterday made it pretty plain that attending their father’s Christmas party is a big pain and why can’t we simply mail them a check. As I cook anyway, I will remember this poem. Thanks.

You have our sympathy. We are having the local family Christmas celebration this weekend, because the family is scattering to the other parental units on Christmas Day. And some members of the family are as ungrateful.

But they will learn.