Tuesday, 28 December 2010


King Herod's Palace
National Geographic

Who's that knocking on the window,
Who's that standing at the door,
What are all those presents
Lying on the kitchen floor?

Who is the smiling stranger
With hair as white as gin,
What is he doing with the children
And who could have let him in?

Why has he rubies on his fingers,
A cold, cold crown on his head,
Why, when he caws his carol,
Does the salty snow run red?

Why does he ferry my fireside
As a spider on a thread,
His fingers made of fuses
And his tongue of gingerbread?

Why does the world before him
Melt in a million suns,
Why do his yellow, yearning eyes
Burn like saffron buns?

Watch where he comes walking
Out of the Christmas flame,
Dancing, double-talking:

Herod is his name.

Charles Causley

Charles Causley comments:

I wrote this poem for a private Christmas card at the time of the Cold War when such phrases as 'the peaceful use of atomic energy'  for me rang particularly thin. There is a clear reference to the Christian Feast of the Holy Innocents (28 December) or Childermass.