Every once in a while, in the process of exploring the vast expanses of poetry in history, you find a gem. A gem I found, recently, was A Child’s Christmas In Wales. This poem hit me in a way that not many have, lately. No other poem can so accurately portray what it’s like to be little and to look up at such a big world. It does all this through similes, metaphors, and parallel structure
The poem isn’t so much a story as it is a series of thoughts, tied together with parallel structure and metaphor, using the building blocks of dialogue. The poem is a swirling sea of vocabulary, storm of words and ideas swooshing from the mind of the author to the cortex of the reader.
Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday... (P. 7)
All of these ideas tie to a main theme — the experience of Christmas when you’re young. When you’re young, imagination and a newly shaping brain gives you the ability to believe anything you say to yourself. That cat is a jaguar, there’s a hippo coming down the street, this candy cigarette is real. It doesn’t matter what is happening, or if it even makes sense. The poem comes from the mind of an older person reflecting on the excitement of the mundane when he was a child. He is surrounded by family on one of the most sacred days of the year for any kid. He is free to do whatever he pleases, and even when things look down, as they do when a fire occurs in the house, he’s still able to look on the bright side. The piece is nostalgic to a time when nothing mattered and everything was simple. As time moves on there are more worries, more work, and less time to be imaginative. A Child’s Christmas In Wales is the story of the same simplicity that everyone longs for, and we only really feel on special occasions like Christmas with our family.
And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings (P. 7)
It is one of my favorite poems only a few days after reading it because I appreciate the meaning behind it. Christmas is a special time, it is a timeless break from the rest of the world, a phenomena that can not be explained. Child like joy is a commodity, treasure it.