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Midnight at Blackfriars

Neil McLeod Avatar  Send Soup Mail  Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled Midnight at Blackfriars which was written by poet Neil McLeod. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Midnight at Blackfriars

Midnight at Blackfriars 
  
The city spires are hidden, 
It’s getting colder fast, 
It feels as though we might have 
Some snow this month at last. 
The wind sweeps keenly through St. Giles(1) 
The hour is getting late. 
Fleeting forms across the scene, 
Are making for the gate. 
  
December is upon us, 
The year is wearing thin, 
Parishioners from town and gown 
Now are gathering in.  
Rosy cheeks are shining, 
There’s a spirit of good will, 
We’re coming in for Midnight Mass 
The Christmas Eve Vigil. 
  
Forgotten is the riot  
Of Saint Scholastic’s Day,(2) 
To celebrate the Savior’s birth, 
We worship now and pray. 
Conjoining with the acolytes 
Dressed in cassock’s white, 
We’re caroling together, 
Upon the holy night. 
  
A gallant in best evening wear, 
Bow tie and cummerbund, 
And a high-heeled damsel on his arm, 
Is down from Summertown. 
A staff nurse from the Radcliffe,(3)  
Whose shift was at an end, 
Was seated close beside them 
Clutching at her friend. 
  
There the widow all in black, 
Who cleans the votive stands, 
Holds her missal open 
With stubby fingered hands. 
She blends with the congregants, 
Ignoring the celebs,  
And is back up for the service 
From somewhere in St. Ebbs.(4) 
  
A student in thick sweaters 
And ragged scarf of grey 
Is seated on the furthest aisle 
Hair all in disarray. 
Across the nave the prayer chairs, 
Range back in their rows, 
Filling up with congregants 
In coats and gloves and throws. 
  
In from the rear the friars process 
With candles all aglow, 
Up the side aisle to the chancel, 
Caroling as they go. 
Above their heads upon the walls 
Are stations of the cross, 
Reminders set in stark relief 
Of this night’s final cost. 
  
We see the prior in chasuble 
For the apse proceeding, 
To celebrate communion 
And give the sacred reading. 
The greatest story ever told 
Unfolds with familiar ring 
Filling our hearts with the promise 
Of Christ the new born king. 
  
Then with the service over, 
We make for the hall below, 
Where cocoa and mince pies and sherry 
Are served before we go.  
Outside the snow is dusting  
The chained bikes in the Fair, 
Contented now we homeward fade 
Through the Christmas air. 


(1)Saint Giles Fair - Convergence of the Banbury and Woodstock Roads in Oxford extending south the Magdalen Street by Martyrs Memorial.

(2) The St Scholastica Day riot of 10 February 1355

(3) Radcliffe Infirmary - The first Oxford Hospital 

(4) St Ebbes is a district of central Oxford, England,

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  1. Date: 4/20/2014 9:08:00 PM
    Reading this, I felt as if I was there, I could see the candles glow and smell the mince pies..............A masterful creation Neil. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  1. Date: 1/11/2014 10:31:00 PM
    Hi Neil, I would like to extend my hand in welcome to the PoetrySoup community. There’s a lot to learn from each other here and hopefully you will have a great time while at it. Feel free to drop me a line when you can. I am looking forward to reading more from you. Vicky.

  1. Date: 1/7/2014 4:00:00 PM
    Well written. I enjoyed the read.

    McLeod Avatar Neil McLeod
    Date: 1/7/2014 5:16:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry


    Thank you so much Sue. I am just getting started here and I so appreciate the supportive critiques i have received. Neil