Carol of Birds, Beasts and Men

Christus natus est! the cockChrist is born
Carols on the morning dark.

Quando? croaks the raven stiffWhen?
Freezing on the broken cliff.

Hoc nocte, replies the crowThis night
Beating high above the snow.

Ubi? Ubi? booms the oxWhere?
From its cavern in the rocks.

Bethlehem, then bleats the sheep
Huddled on the winter steep.

Quomodo? the brown hare clicksHow?
Chattering among the sticks.

Humiliter, the careful wrenHumbly
Thrills upon the cold hedge-stone.

Cur? Cur? sounds the cootWhy?
By the iron river-root.

Propter homine, the thrushFor the sake of man
Sings on the sharp holly-bush.

Cui? Cui? rings the choughTo whom?
On the strong, sea-haunted bluff.

Mary! Mary! calls the lamb
From the quiet of the womb.

Praeterea ex quo? criesWho else?
The woodpecker in pallid skies.

Joseph, breathes the heavy shire
Warming in its own blood-fire.

Ultime ex quo? the owlWho above all?
Solemnly begins to call.

De Deo, the little stareOf God
Whistles on the hardening air.

Pridem? Pridem? the jack snipeLong ago?
From the stiff grass starts to pipe.

Sic et non, answers the foxYes and no
Tiptoeing the bitter lough.

Quomodo hoc scire potest?How do I know this?
Boldly flutes the robin-redbreast.

Illo in eandem, squeaksBy going there
The mouse within the barley-sack.

Quae sarcinae? asks the dawWhat luggage?
Swaggering from head to claw.

Nulla res, replies the assNone
Bearing on its back the cross.

Quantum pecuniae? shrillsHow much money?
The wandering gull about the hills.

Ne nummum quidem, the rookNot a penny
Caws across the rigid brook.

Nulla resne? barks the dogNothing at all?
By the crumbling fire-log.


Nil nisi cor amans, the doveOnly a loving heart
Murmurs from its house of love.

Gloria in Excelsis! Then
Man is God and God is Man.

Charles Causley (1917–2003)

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