Shepherd’s Tale


A 21st Century Yorkshire Shepherd – with collie and quad bike – better clad but still out in the rain.

You wouldn’t have cared for the night-shift, I can tell you,

not at the year’s end,

with the wind

slashing your face and numbing your aching mind;

and the snow; the bitter reality of it

seeping through the traditional gear,

which was, to say the least, inadequate.

We had it to do, but I think you’d

back us up when we say we would have preferred

to stay at home, in bed with our warm wives,

and a good long sleep in front of us –

for choice.

You realise, I’m sure, that was before,

grumbling all together

in a huddle like the sheep;

before the instant of terror and the withering fear,

the shrapnel-shock, the streams of shell-light.

And when we dared to open our eyes to the skies’ blinding,

suddenly shattered out of our found senses

exploded into another world,

hurled on our ears the singing, singing heavens.

We soon moved off though some cynics were ready

to think we’d misunderstood.

But I knew when they said manger that’s what they meant.


Gathering the flock, near Embrun, France.

We went down into the town.

The party-goers coming home late thought we’d gone mad;

perhaps we had, but by then, there wasn’t a man

would have turned back.

You’ll be wondering how we felt when we knelt there

so near the baby and that young Mary?

Hard for a poor chap like me to express it really.

The light and the singing were gone;

just a smelly stable and the animals munching away.

A bit of an anti-climax in a way.

But you see we knew who it was there, sharing his bed

with the beasts, and we appreciated

our poverty after that;

after God had spoken his own Word

in our language

uncouth and poor. 


A Shepherd’s Tale seems fitting on the day we remember the Holy and Blissful Martyr, Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, who laid down his life for his sheep on this evening in 1170 at Canterbury Cathedral.




1 Comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, poetry

One response to “Shepherd’s Tale

  1. Thanks to all who have enjoyed Sister Mary Stephen’s poetry over the Christmastide. WT.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s