Thursday 27 December 2018

In the Anglican Sunset

Among my Christmas presents was an excellent anthology, Building Jerusalem: Elegies on Parish Churches, a selection of church poems written in the long shadows cast over England by the Anglican sunset. In it I found today's Christmastide poem, by the one and only Geoffrey Hill...

Epiphany at Saint Mary and All Saints

The wise men, vulnerable in ageing plaster,
are borne as gifts
to be set down among the other treasures
in their familial strangeness, mystery's toys.

Below the church the Stour slovens
through its narrow cut.
On service roads the lights cast amber salt
slatted with a thin rain doubling as snow.

Showings are not unknown: a six-winged seraph
somewhere impends – it is the geste of invention,
not the creative but the creator spirit.
The night air sings a colder spell to come.

[This St Mary and All Saints is the grand parish church of Kidderminster, the largest in Worcestershire.]


  1. In order to tune in to modern culture, in 'Speech Speech' Hill addresses stanzas to the 'Rapmeister' with whom he sees himself as competing. Is his reference to 'gifs' here in a similar vein Nige?

  2. Whoops! That can only be described as a typo. Thanks, Guy.