Friday, December 24, 2004

The Shepherd's Tale - a little bit of whimsy

T’was three o’clock in the mornin’
and I woke with such a fright
the fire ‘ad burned to cinders
yet the ash was shinin’ bright.
The sheep was castin’ shadows,
long an’ lanky on the grass;
I rubbed my eyes - to my surprise
I saw an angel pass

I’m very good at counting
even if I’m half asleep.
I had to check the flock in case
the angel nicked a sheep
but when I’d finished countin’
(well, I’d got as far as three)
another angel comes along
and says “ ‘Allo!” to me.

I says to ‘im - "What’s up, mate? Lost?"
He says “Not me, chum, You!
The other shepherds left the hill
at twenty five past two!
They’ve all run down to Bethlehem
with coats and cloaks a flying
to see a strange and wondrous child
in a manger lying.”

“Well that’s just typical,” says I
“They’ve got no sense of calling;
abandoning their helpless sheep....
pathetic and appalling!
It’s lucky they’ve got me around
so watchful and so able
to keep an eye on all their sheep
while they’re down at the stable.”

“Excuse me if I’m wrong,” he said,
but if I’m not mistaken
you were lying fast asleep
before you were awaken.
Pray tell me how you guard your sheep
when both your eyes are shuttered
(Aside) These mortals have amazing gifts!
The cheeky angel muttered.

I felt a little foolish then,
and just a touch deflated.
It seemed so mean the other men
had gone and hadn’t waited;
And now they’d all be famous
in the stories that were told
while I was on the hillside
all companionless and cold!

But as I stood there miserable
and feeling at a loss
my own dear sheep, young Meadowsweet
my pet lamb, came across.
She snuggled up beside me
with affection, warm and wise
and in the dark her warmth and love
brought hot tears to my eyes.

The angel must have seen my tears
and known I felt unpleasant
he whispered “Hey.... the other guys
forgot to take a present”
I said “Well; thanks for thinking mate,
yeah, thanks for thinking ...but
it really doesn’t help a lot
cos all the shops are shut.

And then young Meadowsweet looked up
nuzzling against my hand
as if to say “Give me away
for I will understand”.
I found it really hard to believe
for she was all I had.
She was like a daughter to me,
I was like her Dad.

But when the angel dropped us off
and I knocked on the door
and Joseph with a weary smile said
“Ay, there’s room for more”
we squeezed into the crowded barn
and kneeled before the manger
and Meadowsweet lay down to sleep
beside the little stranger.

And then it seemed, of all the gifts,
of frankincense, myrrh, gold;
that only one gift snuggled close
and kept away the cold.
And only one gift grew with him,
and trotted at his feet -
it wasn’t gold or frankincense
but my dear Meadowsweet.

So all who hear this tale, pay heed
..the best gifts we can give
are not the sort that can be bought
but are the kind that live.

And when God gives us gifts it’s never China for a shelf,
But living, unexpected gifts
Because He gives himself.

(c) A McN

No Nobel prizes for this literature but it was fun. Parts were a joint effort with my daughter - who learns poetry considerably more effectively than I can.


Blogger Kirsty said...

"I found it really hard to believe" -- changed to "I found it really really hard" if I remember correctly :)

10:39 PM  

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