Monday, 20 December 2010


Christmas Shopping in Dublin

Spending beyond their income on gifts for Christmas-
Swing doors and crowded lifts and draperied jungles-
What shall we buy for our husbands and sons
   Different from last year?

Foxes hang by their noses behind plate glass-
Scream of macaws across festoons of paper-
Only the faces on the boxes of chocolates are free
   From boredom and crowsfeet.

Sometimes a chocolate-box girl escapes in the flesh,
Lightly manoeuvres the crowd, trilling with laughter;
After a couple of years her feet and her brain will
   Tire like all the others.

The great windows marshall their troops for assault on the purse
Something-and-eleven the yard, hoodwinking logic,
The eleventh hour draining the gurgling pennies
   Down to the conduits

Down to the sewers of money - rats and marshgas - 
Bubbling in maundering music under the pavement;
Here go the hours of routine, the weight on our eyelids-
   Pennies on corpses’.

While over the street in the centrally heated
Library dwindling figures with sloping shoulders
And hands in pockets, weighted in the boots like chessmen,
   Stare at the printed

Columns of ads, the quickest roads to riches,
Staring at a little and temporary but once we’re
Started who knows whether we shan’t continue,
   Salaries rising,

Rising like a salmon against the bullnecked river,
Bound for the spawning-ground of care-free days-
Good for a fling before the golden wheels run
   Down to a standstill.

And Christ is born - The nursery glad with baubles,
Alive with light and washable paint and children’s
Eyes, expects as its due the accidental
   Loot of a system.

Smell of the South - oranges in silver paper,
Dates and ginger, the benison of firelight,
The blue flames dancing round the brandied raisins,
   Smiles from above them,

Hands from above them as of gods but really
These their parents, always seen from below, them-
Selves are always anxious looking across the
   Fence to the future-

Out there lies the future gathering quickly
Its blank momentum; through the tubes of London
The dead winds blow the crowds like beasts in flight from
   Fire in the forest.

The little firtrees palpitate with candles
In hundreds of chattering households where the suburb
Straggles like nervous handwriting, the margin
   Blotted with smokestacks.

Further out on the coast the lighthouse moves its
Arms of light through the fog that wads our welfare,
Moves its arms like a giant at Swedish drill whose
   Mind is a vacuum.

Louis Macneice