The Christmas Robin : Robert Graves



I was half hoping that we would have a little of the snow that we had this time last year, so that I could illustrate this February poem with a snap of a “murderous robin“.  But no – only drizzle – so I’ve illustrated it with a  Christmas postcard instead, from Grimsby, as it happens.  (Where did she get that hat?)  The poem is by Robert Graves.



The Christmas Robin


The snows of February had buried Christmas

Deep in the woods, where grew self-seeded

The fir-trees of a Christmas yet unknown,

Without a candle or a strand of tinsel.


Neverthless when, hand in hand, plodding

Between the frozen ruts, we lovers paused

And ‘Christmas trees!’ cried suddenly together,

Christmas was there again, as in December.


We velveted our love with fantasy

Down a long vista-row of Christmas trees,

Whose coloured candles slowly guttered down

As grandchildren came trooping round our knees.


But he knew better, did the Christmas robin –

The murderous robin with his breast aglow

And legs apart, in a spade-handle perched:

He prophesied more snow, and worse than snow.  


S. Vere Benson, incidentally, has this to say about the robin – “Nest : of grass, wool, moss and hair ; in a hole in a wall, tree or bank, or any other convenient niche.  Very often it is in an old kettle or pail, or even indoors on a bookshelf, or in a church”.

“A bookshelf?” – now there’s a thing I never saw.