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13th December 2021

One of my favourite modern poets is the late Charles Causley. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting him a couple of times. And one of my favourite poems of his is The Ballad of the Bread Man. In it he gives a different slant to the gospel story. Here are some of the verses dealing with the Christmas story:

Mary stood in the kitchen
Baking a loaf of bread.
An angel flew in through the window.
‘We’ve a job for you,’ he said.

‘God in his big gold heaven,
Sitting in his big blue chair,
Wanted a mother for his little son.
Suddenly saw you there.

Mary shook and trembled,
‘It isn’t true what you say.’
‘Don’t say that,’ said the angel.
‘The baby’s on its way.’

Joseph was in his workshop
Planing a piece of wood.
‘The old man’s past it,’ the neighbours said.
‘That girl’s been up to no good’

The baby was born in an annexe
Next to the local pub.
At midnight, a delegation
Turned up from the Farmers’ Club.

They talked about an explosion
That made a hole in the sky,
Said they’d been sent to the Lamb & Flag
To see God come down from on high.

A few days later a bishop
And a five-star general were seen
With the head of an African country
In a bullet-proof limousine.

I hope that gives you a flavour of the poem, which takes the story right up to the Resurrection, with a twist at the end. Do read the whole thing if you get a chance!

David T Roberts