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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 23 December 2012

Roger McGough presents a varied, warm, yet slush-free selection of Christmas poetry requests.
A moving poem called The Shepherd by Edward Kaulfuss will strike a chord with anyone who has felt estranged at a Christmas gathering. T.S. Eliot's 'The Journey of The Magi' with its complexities and doubt features alongside other classics like Hardy's ever hopeful poem The Oxen (it wouldn't be Christmas without it, after all) and Laurie Lee's Christmas Landscape. Another thoughtful nativity poem comes from a poet perhaps better known for her caustic wit; Dorothy Parker.
There are some nostalgic poems from Ireland, including Patrick Kavanagh's poem 'A Christmas Childhood' where the six year old Kavanagh saw the magic in the mundane ("my child poet picked out the letters/On the grey stone/In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland") as his father's melodeon called out to his neighbours. John Montague's poem The Silver Flask marks the brief reunion of a family dispersed from County Tyrone to Brooklyn, where Montague himself was born.
Coventry Patmore's poem The Toys might just move the hardest cynic heart to tears, whilst Hugh MacMillan's 'Saturday Afternoon at the Grotto' injects a healthy sense of Glaswegian realism.
The readers are John Mackay, Ian McElhinney and Eleanor Tremain.
Producer: Sarah Langan.

  • This Week's Poems

    Saturday Afternoon in the Grotto

    By Hugh MacMillan

    From Aphrodite’s Anorak

    Publisher: Peterloo Poets


    The Silver Flask          

    By John Montague

    From John Montague – New Selected Poems

    Publisher: Bloodaxe


    The Christmas Tree   

    By Cecil Day Lewis

    From The Complete Poems of C. Day Lewis

    Publisher: Sinclair-Stevenson


    A Dish for a Poet        


    From The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems

    Publisher: Oxford University Press


    A Giving          

    By Brendan Kennelly

    From Familiar Strangers

    Publisher: Bloodaxe


    The Toys         

    By Coventry Patmore

    From the Oxford Book of Victorian Verse

    Publisher: Oxford University Press


    Christmas Landscape 

    By Laurie Lee

    From Laurie Lee – Selected Poems

    Publisher: Andre Deutsch


    Prayer for a New Mother      

    By Dorothy Parker

    From The Collected Dorothy Parker

    Publisher: Penguin


    The Shepherd 

    By Edward Kaulfuss

    From The New Beacon Magazine

    Publisher: RNIB


    Journey of the Magi   

    By T S Eliot

    From T.S. Eliot – Collected Poems 1909-1962

    Publisher: Faber


    Somewhere Around Christmas

    by John Smith

    From The Pattern of Poetry

    Publisher: Burke


    A Christmas Childhood          

    By Patrick Kavanagh

    From The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry

    Publisher: Faber


    The Oxen        

    By Thomas Hardy

    From The Oxford Authors – Thomas Hardy

    Publisher: Oxford University Press





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