In the first darkness, a star bled.
The war of cloud and summit, other wounds.
Hills cupped their hands
And the rain shone over knuckles of rock and dropped to the
Precious that well-hoard.
The priests gathered in secret jars
Lustrations for the passionate and the dead.
You were blessed, young tree
With one apple.
Far on you must bear five godwounds, prefigured and red.
The deer runs on, runs on, swiftly runs on
Before bird and arrow,
Then bends, obedient to the arrow, its branching head.
A hunter’s hand has broken the wild grape
To stain and seed.
And the hunter’s hill opened with a green sound,
A stalk of corn,
And the blacksmith took from his forge a powerful blade.
Now this, a cry in our atom-and-planet night –
A child’s wailing.
A child’s cry at the door of the House-of-Bread.
George Mackay Brown (1921 – 1996)
Taken from The Twelve Poems of Christmas, Volume Three, Selected and Introduced by Carol Ann Duffy