Thursday, January 05, 2006

Christmas: For Miss Steinberg & Her Students

I found this in one of my "Christmas" books, A Wreath of Christmas Legends by Phyllis McGinley.

Story for an Educated Child

It used to be, when the world was young,
Animals spoke a Christian tongue,
Articulating clearly.
And still do those of peaceable bent
Practice the kind of accomplishment
On Christmas evening, yearly.

With human wit, in a human voice,
The beasts of the barnyard all rejoice
From Vespertime to Matin,
Recounting tales of the little God
Over and over. But isn't it odd?
The speech they speak is Latin.

The strident Cock lifts up his crest,
Stuttering, "Christus natus est!"
Till midnight splits asunder.
Laborious from his stable box,
"Ubi? Ubi?" lows the Ox,
Bemused with sleep and wonder.

The somnolent Sheep, adrift from dreams,
Bleats "Bethlehem!" and her quaver seems
Half question and half promise.
Then Ass that wears by an old decree
A cross on his back for prophecy,
Brays forth his loud "Eamus!"

And there they gossip while night grows gray
And curious stars have slipped away
From shimmering thrones they sat in.
So many a child might brave the cold
To hear them talking. But I am told
He mustn't be more than six years old.
And who at six knows Latin?

Merry Christmas,

Mrs. Foos