U. A. Fanthorpe was in the habit of writing a Christmas poem every year.I’ve already written about “The Sheepdog“, which gives you a close-up, dog’s eye view of the Nativity.BC-AD takes a broader view, placing it in context with everything that has gone before, and everything which will follow it.It’s a poem about the structure of time.
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
She is writing about one moment here – the tipping point between “then” and “now.” And this moment comes at a time when “dull peace/ sprawled boringly over the earth.” The Romans have time to count the population of their empire;everyone else is busy with their own affairs.
The Lamb of God does not come with trumpets and fireworks, his birth is witnessed only by ” a few farm labourers and ” three members of an obscure Persian sect.”
It is a secret birth coming at one brief instant, like the pause between breathing in and breathing out.