PART OF THE Feeling Festive ISSUE

‘A conjunction of planets: a comet; a nova (birth of a new star), or a miracle (without explanation)?’

Rosemary Hector has re-imagined the Nativity story through a series of poems offering different voices and perspectives. If you’re looking to see this story anew, this beautifully-illustrated book is a perfect gift for Advent. We’ve selected here a few of the poems from the collection to kick start your Christmas reflections.


Poems taken from A Quickening
By Rosemary Hector
Published by Muddy Pearl


Matter of Belief

The guide from National Geographic suggested
it could have been a trough, rather than a manger,
where Mary laid her baby, since Bethlehem,
banked by olive and almond trees, is on an aquifer
and was built to defend water. He pontificated that
water and height, the soil and its fertility, defence,
boundaries and access remain political issues.
Trough or manger; a problem? The mystery is
in contested territory, in politically charged times
God became matter, and tiny, contained.


Star of Bethlehem

A conjunction of planets:
a comet; a nova (birth of
a new star), or a miracle
(without explanation)?
Oblivious, the quilters
sense the need for joy
in their choice of colours, know
effort should focus more
on effect than on perfect points;
a burst of visual delight.
They choose this pattern,
cut cloth, stitch and patch
this many-sided star,
and sense its significance,
the ancient story.
Learned men. Interpreters
of skies. The decision
to trust their knowledge,
traverse deserts, hopeful,
follow what they could see,
follow the foretold.



Did he come down to be mocked up
in plaster of Paris, or pale wood
painted with vermilion wounds,
paraded through streets each fiesta?
Did he come down to be a statue
handled by men in white gloves,
gently winched onto a plinth?
Did he come down to model
for Raphael or Leonardo;
on a beatific Mary’s lap?
Yes, he came down, for all our poor
attempts to represent what we sense,
or consider beautiful and in good taste;
he came down and has compassion
on our worst art, and on our best.



… oh i cry for our country a bank with no money
a shop with nothing to sell a sandpit not safe for play
because of litter and needles and dog shit
oh i weep bitter tears for our country …
Isaiah’s metaphors were for different times; he wrote
of neglected vineyards, deserts, burning straw, as he wept
for Israel, God’s lovely nation. It was the same observation
as today; a failure of justice. Rightness offended.
A prophet’s lament is not personal, but mirrors
things as they are. It speaks to those in power,
nor does it offer an answer, provide a neat narrative
with a rhyming conclusion. The call is to consider, return.
Say ‘sorry’ and attempt to restore all that is broken.
Yet within his descriptions of darkness and woe a small voice
slips in; light. There will be a child. Named ‘God with us’.
With us, in all our metaphors. In all our times.


A Quickening by Rosemary Hector is published by Muddy Pearl, priced £9.99

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