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A Mumbles Christmas

[With apologies to John Betjeman]


The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The parlour fire is laid again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained -glass window sheen
From Old Knab Rock to Sketty Green.
The Holly in the windy hedge
And round the Vicarage the Yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The Altar, font and arch and pew,
So that all Mumbles folk can say
“All Saints looks nice!” on Christmas Day.
The Vic, the Beaufort, White Rose blaze
And red First Cymru ‘buses roar,
On lighted tenements I gaze
Where paper decorations soar,
And bunting in Victoria Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all!’
And Swansea shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and green
As tired staff the city leave
To warming homes- Oh! Such a scene!
And pearl-heavy clouds go scudding by 
The sparsely-steepled Swansea sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,
And Christmas morning bells say, “Come!”
Even to shining ones who dwell
In lordly flats above Caswell.
And is it true? And is it true?
This most tremendous tale of all’
Seen in All Saints window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea,
Became a Child on earth for me?
And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant.
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple shaking bells
Can with this single truth compare-
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.