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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,

Copyright © | Year Posted 2013




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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.
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Neil McLeod
Date: 8/16/2015 1:32:00 AM
Thank you Jerry that is most encouraging. I have been away publishing a series of ten books of poems, but I am back now, and I am hoping to find comfort and support here at PoetrySoup. I hope you will look at more of my work. Sincerely Neil
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.
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Neil McLeod
Date: 8/16/2015 1:33:00 AM
Thank you Vicky, that is most encouraging. I have been away publishing a series of ten books of poems, but I am back now, and I am hoping to find comfort and support here at PoetrySoup. I hope you will look at more of my work. Sincerely Neil
Date: 1/7/2014 4:00:00 PM
Well written. I enjoyed the read.
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Neil McLeod
Date: 1/7/2014 5:16:00 PM
Thank you so much Sue. I am just getting started here and I so appreciate the supportive critiques i have received. Neil