I have been reading poetry to Alex at the end of our home school lessons. I have a poetry book that was my father's. It's called, "This Land: An Anthology of Australian Poetry for Young People." It is the best poetry book I have ever read. Alas, a few years back I tried to get a couple more copies of it for my brother and sister, but it is out of print and very hard to find. I emailed one shop in Australia that said online they had it in stock, but when they looked they could not find it. So, I have one tattered, falling apart copy that my sister and brother and I used to battle over. Right now it is in my possession, but I need to make copies and give it back to family.
Here is a Christmas poem I read to Alex this week, which you have likely never heard because it is printed in an out of print Australian anthology. But, the poem itself is fresh, beautiful, interesting and insightful. It was written thoughtfully by a Catholic poet. Perhaps, it may bring new thoughts and discussions within your family.
A Word from the Innkeeper
By Paul Grano
No luck, there's no room here.
There's not a corner of the yard
but has them sleeping packed
as close as pigeons in a market coop.
I'd not refuse you did I have a spot
where you could even seat yourself and wife.
Look for yourself--baggage and camels, and men,
women and kids, a rowdy, thieving mob,
sprawled everywhere. Now, are you satisfied?
In all my twenty years of keeping inns
I've never seen the like before.
Such avalanche of flesh, such herds of humans!
All day long for days
they've drifted in, mud to the knees,
with blistered feet, fagged and empty-bellied.
They've eaten the whole village out--
there's not a wineskin wet,
not a cheese remains. And bread!
My friend, the baker, fell exhausted in a tub of dough.
They found him, sleeping there, a monstrous loaf!
Myself, I haven't slept these three nights past.
I daren't--they'd pinch the very doors for wood.
Well, there it's is, nothing I can do.
The Government's to blame--
I ask you, who but fools would take
a census in the wintertime?
A bitter winter, too, it is--
and if I am a weather-man--they say I am--
my father was, he knew the signs--
and shifting ants for floods, and all the rest--
I'd say the sky is full of snow.
Make on, and find some shelter for your wife.
A pretty girl, she is. You'll be a father soon?
God grant you, sir, a lusty son.
Let's see, let's see--two hundred yards along
you'll strike a narrow track, a cattle-pad,
that branches to the right and leads
into the hills where there are caves.
At least you'll have a roof, and dung for fire--
the cattle shelter there--
but, even so, they're cleaner than the cattle I have here.
The wind has fallen. There's a flake of snow--
a frozen swallow, if you like poetic terms.
My father was a poet. But make faster.
Yes, light your latern now. The stars
are coming out. How sharp and cold they are,
like points of silvered spears! They say
a brand new star arrived the other day,
but stars to me are much alike as sheep.
Good night, good night, my friend. A sound roof,
and a dry bed, and a sunny morning!
Good night. See you do not miss the track--
Two hundred yards along, and to the right.