(Dec 19th to Jan 1st)

Format: Triple

Morning brought the penetrating chill of the Northern December, the layers of wood-smoke, the dusty grey-blue of the tamarisks, the domes of ruined tombs, and all the smell of the white Northern plains, as the mail-train ran on to the mile-long Sutlej Bridge …They were picking them up at almost every station now—men and women coming in for the Christmas Week, with racquets, with bundles of polo-sticks, with dear and bruised cricket-bats, with fox-terriers and saddles.


This is from “William the Conqueror” in The Day’s Work.

A group of administrators from the Punjab have been
down in the South, on famine relief. Now, their work done, they are coming home for Christmas.

Oh the white dust on the highway! Oh the stenches in the byway!
Oh the clammy fog that hovers over earth!
And at Home they’re making merry ’neath the white and scarlet berry—
What part have India’s exiles in their mirth?


This is from “Christmas in India” (1886), which describes the feelings of Anglo-Indians, in a foreign land at Christmas-time, which—nonetheless—is their home.

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 you can see—
  And who shall judge the Lord?


This is from “A Carol” which accompanies the uncollected story “A Burgher of the Free State” and “The Tree of Justice” in Rewards and Fairies.

‘And who shall judge the Lord?’ cry the carollers. We cannot judge men for what they do under duress; nor can we judge the Lord for imposing the duress by which such actions are enforced.

But it may be said of Allen in that story and Harold in “The Tree of Justice”, both men at the end of their lives, that the `frost’ that broke their hearts was ripening their lands for spring. [J M S Tompkins].