Carol of Birds, Beasts and Men

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

Quando? croaks the raven stiff When?
Freezing on the broken cliff.

Hoc nocte, replies the crow This night
Beating high above the snow.

Ubi? Ubi? booms the ox Where?
From its cavern in the rocks.

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

Quomodo? the brown hare clicks How?
Chattering among the sticks.

Humiliter, the careful wren Humbly
Thrills upon the cold hedge-stone.

Cur? Cur? sounds the coot Why?
By the iron river-root.

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

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

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

Praeterea ex quo? cries Who else?
The woodpecker in pallid skies.

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

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

De Deo, the little stare Of God
Whistles on the hardening air.

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

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

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

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

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

Nulla res, replies the ass None
Bearing on its back the cross.

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

Ne nummum quidem, the rook Not a penny
Caws across the rigid brook.

Nulla resne? barks the dog Nothing at all?
By the crumbling fire-log.

Nil nisi cor amans, the dove Only 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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