Patrick Kavanagh

(1904 - 1967 / County Monaghan)

Advent


We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.

O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.


Submitted by Andrew Mayers

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Advent by Patrick Kavanagh )

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  • Jim Behan (12/12/2011 6:42:00 AM)

    The word 'please' omitted from the eighth line of final verse. Unfortunate: -( (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Mullane (6/14/2010 9:03:00 PM)

    Read this for the 1st time when I at about 15 years old.
    I've never forgotten it so I suppose it made an impression :)

    Absolutely one of my favourite poems of all time. (Report) Reply

  • James Cadden (7/30/2009 1:57:00 AM)

    Read this poem a lietime and you will never understand the imagery to make the poem come to life you need trodded on the clay and looked oer the hills with unassuming eyes filled with wonder with the awe of a child looking through heaven's gable. (Report) Reply

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