‘Hill Christmas’, by RS Thomas

They came over the snow to the bread’s
purer snow, fumbled it in their huge
hands, put their lips to it
like beasts, stared into the dark chalice
where the wine shone, felt it sharp
on their tongue, shivered as at a sin
remembered, and heard love cry
momentarily in their hearts’ manger.

They rose and went back to their poor
holdings, naked in the bleak light
of December. Their horizon contracted
to the one small, stone-riddled field
with its tree, where the weather was nailing
the appalled body that had asked to be born.

– RS Thomas, ‘Hill Christmas’, in Collected Poems, 1945–1990 (London: Dent, 1993), 290.

3 thoughts on “‘Hill Christmas’, by RS Thomas

  1. @Trevor: many thanks for pointing that out. The version in Thomas’ Collected Poems, as well as that in Glyn-Jones’ Poems ’76, has no ‘not’, but I can see that the version published in Thomas’ Selected Poems (Penguin, 2004) includes it. How strange.

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