Y U L E   G A M M O N

M o r r i s   C o x

                                        The Argument

Outside physical time, the Poet attends a certain Yule-feast. He records the words of the Officiant who, while commanding the dancing, feasting and merry-making, condemns old sins and shortcomings and reminds his listeners of their obligation to him : after which he sacrifices himself by 'entering the Log' in order to renew, through his own rejuvenation, the youth of Man and the World.

Y U L E   G A M M O N

Come ye all !



                                                spell under yews,

freeze-kin ! Choose ye,

clip ye under the mistletoe.

All-heal hangs with his fiddlers three.

Snitely yelk and icely singing

eat your berry and hale your love.

                        Coss ye all!

O folk of my belly, I have brought the log :

O sin-ball, my eld, should I die in my skin,

beloved !

                        Welcome in !

Here is Too-good with a bare nothing,

Plump-dumpling, who wedded Skin-and-bone :

Man-of-straw, old Flea-in-the-ear,

Bee-in-a-bonnet, and all the rest.

Here is a lady who whored off her nose,

with her gold-loving lord who lost both his hands :

and fey wights also: hairy slugs,

fish in high feather and bald cats.

                        We are all one !

Some have murder and dust in their eyes,

some lie on the shelf without a leg,

some fight in fear of their own shadows,

some smell of sucklings, some of death :

some, well tossed, are laid at my door,

some bad, some odd, some good.

                        Come right in !

There is room for all, though you sit on a bodkin :

together, by the ears, we have buried the axe.

                        Let us begin.

Jig ye awhile to the whittle and dub,

couth and cuddly.

Do you hear the clommed houndwhelps yowling my death?

My block is ready, the fiery tree.

                        Jig ye all !

Ragtail and Tagglebob, take your turn :

ye twirps and pimps, smellsmocks and trollops,

hugged up together and running in the skin,

                        jig ye all :

Ye godrotten wantons and gidden whores,

guffawing fumblers, scuts and scrubs,

behold me standing

lean on a rake by my body as two peas,

watching the old-year moon begin to die !

                        Jig ye all !

Your daughters lie screaming by the shells of the sea,

for the foe has found their narrow way :

your wives lie sobbing by the snails of the shore,

for the foe has sat down by their fires :

someone's middenhood hangs by a pin,

every Kit has lost her key,

no maiden is left to bear the bell :

not one left without a broken elbow,

not one whole above the knee !

                        Weep if you can,

I speak not in anger . . .

Wimble me the walk called Creeping Snail,

weaving aloft your beaded wands . . .

                        There is nothing hidden :

you speak with your limbs as plain as day.

The scutting hare foretold your weird,

you reared your stonehenge under heaven :

now you front your madmen in narrow lanes

with a sifty answer to trim a wit

and teach your eldermother to grope ducks !

                        O such a love !

The Log is mine and I am his,

I go to dwell in his breast forever.

                        O such a dearth !

Fair Hollen sits with her maids and children,

the everlasting fire is in her fingers . . .

                        Jig no more !

The meats are set for a mighty meal.

The holy star-wit has made his cast :

foretold is the godspeech in words ye know.

                        Seat ye all !

Bid the sweetling, tiny folk come in,

all swarty tawny, to aid our luck.

The kettle-witch has spelled our brew,

the god-spill of blood has blissed our board.

                        Pray ye all !

I am the wild man of the Words,

I bring gleed tidings to all mankind :

into the froring-pan out of the fire,

I come to eat up your sins !

O ye weary ones, heavy lidden with life,

you cunning whoresons,

                        come unto me!

Blissed tonight are the dirty mick sluts

and blessed are the galligut finasters and sniters.

O Bangbowl, Lickdish, Cramgut and Lickchops,

here are titbits whiffling hot !

                        Eat and be merry !

Fall to your calfing, chawing and munching :

heap high the husks, cods and swids !

wind me a roaring hullabaloo

with beck over buttock from kinnipan to pannikin,

bolching anon to break the wand.

                        Drink ye all !

Long as a fuddle and black as the sun

kid after kenned is dying already :

wick'd from the bud and mewed in a crack,

sweating and spewing and treading on mice.

                        Wesheill !

I am born of the witter of the mother

and begotten of the fire of the father.

My star is risen with the yeast

where I witness the lofting of a new world.

                        Love one another !

I am overshadowed by the holy hill,

your silver and gold are put down to bewray me :

your sweet grasses are spread to hallow my burial,

your bitter waters are poured to sop my woe.

The midst is everywhere ! . . .

Behold, how I fell into the deeps without fear

and my sleep was sweet !

I was suckled with the son of dawning

when the sins of God first walked with men :

there heaven was born through understanding

and earth was begotten through overflowing.

                        Live ye and lorn !

Hold your holly to the navel,

sow your seething in love's morning.

The cock crows in the watchman's skull

where you tread, thanking your lucky stairs . . .

I have not been blind.

Once upon a time (while the iron is hot)

you worshipped holy nipples on the hill of skulls

and cried for light with the stars agiggle,

your fists on fire with dripping candles :

I stood there alone, unseen.

Your ears were in a crack where the wind sits,

your eyes were lost on a winding stair,

with you, O Man, prodding your snake

to raise some lust in a world grown cold :

and you, bell lady, all behind,

thunderblack, and pale with death !

I stood there weeping, watching :

your bird-in-hand lay on the shelf,

its wings clipped and the door open :

you sat on thorns to bask in the sun

and ate your heels in the womb of time :

you feathered your nests on a waning star

and drew your breath from the jawes of death,

and thought you could, with unhallowed wealth,

stand in my shoes and scratch your backs !

You tried, you dared : and I saw it all,

thinking, O, how often have I sent

naked truth on a fool's errand !

How often have I lived anew

and died again that you might live ! . . .

                        Let us play.

Here is a horse while I climb on the table,

here are wooden legs that run in the blood :

here is the knell of death's own bell

when oft we start into darkest night.

                        Come one, come all.

Here on a bough hang Dismas and Gesmas,

wrapped in the ruth of a soft pussy night-down

and between them both shines the Holy Boy,

matching with his blood our manifold needs.

                        In and out

                        and all about

the Tree is set to yield our gifts,

with Maid-Mara on loft, our own sweet Mother.

Now let us take the housel in seemly wise,

hiding the lie and wedding the weak.

For me, the ship of an open door :

for us all, the bones of a great tomorrow,

bleeding off into nothing

Behold, now, my play of hands,

my breath, my spittle, my eyes' gleam.

We are not born of ourselves.

Gather in a great ring about me

and witness the wonder of life everlasting.

                                                Fear no more !

                        I wit the wed,

                        I go into the log !

May this yule-block hallow your lives

that your dugs may give clean suck

and your deeds may linger on the earth.

                                                Bare ye and forbear !

                        I roll out my old skin,

                        so to ring in the new,

                        Take care of me !

                        See that I am well swaddled.

                                                Fare ye well !

                        The maze is upon me,

                        my time is come :

the geld, the heart's yield, the golden riches,

the yell of the wind through me, below booming,

shrieking in my skull, to a moan wreathing :

in the egg, the chirp of the chick :

in the womb the momme of the child :

                        before the world was, I knew it :

                        before the Word was, I knew it.



                                                            I will come again.



(written 1941; first published 1957)
2005 by the Trustees of the Morris Cox Estate