Quotes Christmas

December 18th to 28th


With the fruitless years behind us, and the hopeless years before us,
Let us honour, O my brother, Christmas Day!
Call a truce, then, to our labours—let us feast with friends and neighbours,
And be merry as the custom of our caste…


This is from “Christnas in India“, published in 1886 and collected in Departmmental Ditties,  an ironic reflection by the young Kipling  on the feelings of Anglo-Indians at Christmas tide, in an alien country  among alien peope.; a strange land a long from Home.

They conjure up the Christmas spirit of good cheer and fellowship, but, frustrated and liverish, some wonder if the British presence here may be futile.



Our Lord Who did the Ox command
To kneel to Judah’s King,
He binds His frost upon the land
To ripen it for Spring—
To ripen it for Spring, good sirs,
According to His Word.
Which well must be as ye can see—
And who shall judge the Lord?


In its language his poem, “A Carol” echoes a mediaeval Christmas carol, ” Joys Seven” which celebrates the joys of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Kipling’s poem, however, is a meditation on conflicting loyalties, on duty and duress, on the need for authority in a dangerous world, and on the issue of who an judge. and where true justice lies,

These are strong  themes in Kiplnf’s exploration of English history in the Puck stories, and in his reflections on the South African War, which he wintnedded  at first hand.

It is linked to “A Burgher of the Free State“”,” published in 1900, during that war, and to “The Tree of Justice” in Rewards and Fairies, about a time of great tension in twelfth century England between the conquering Normans and the subject Saxons.

A Star stood forth in Heaven;
The Watchers ran to see
The Sign of the Promise given—
“But there comes no sign to me
(To me! To me!)


This is from “A Nativity“, the prayer of a bereaved mother, published two days before Christmas in 1916 when the Great War was still deadlocked, with fearful slaughter on the Western Front. The Kiplings had lost their only  son John the previous year, in his first battle., aged eighteen.

A sober reminder that for some there canbe no rejoicing at Christmas time.