Who’s that knocking on the window,
Who’s that standing at the door,
What are all those presents
Laying on the kitchen floor?
Who is the smiling stranger
With hair as white as gin,
What is he doing with the children
And who could have let him in?
Why has he rubies on his fingers,
A cold, cold crown on his head,
Why, when he caws his carol,
Does the salty snow run red?
Why does he ferry my fireside
As a spider on a thread,
His fingers made of fuses
And his tongue of gingerbread?
Why does the world before him
Melt in a million suns,
Why do his yellow, yearning eyes
Burn like saffron buns?
Watch where he comes walking
Out of the Christmas flame,
Herod is his name.
Charles Causley (1917-2003)
A Cornish poet, schoolmaster and writer whose work is noted for its simplicity and directness and for its associations with folklore. Following his father’s death Causley had to leave school at 15 to earn money, working as an office boy during his early years. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War as a coder, an experience he later wrote about in a book of short stories, Hands to Dance and Skylark. His first collection of poems, Farewell, Aggie Weston appeared in1951. He worked as a teacher at a school in Launceston, leaving the town seldom, twice spending time in Perth as a visiting Fellow at the University of Western Australia and also working at the Banff School of Fine Arts, Canada retiring in 1976. Causley was much in demand at United Kingdom poetry readings and also made many broadcasts. The Charles Causley Trust secured the poet’s house in Launceston for the nation in 2006, working towards opening the house to the public and providing a programme of heritage activities to promote Causley’s life and work.
Brueghel the Elder, Pieter (c1525-1569)
A Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker, possibly born at Bruegel near the Dutch town of Breda, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes. He was the father of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder and is the best known of the Brueghel dynasty of painters, who from 1559 dropped the ‘h’ from his name, signing his paintings as Bruegel. He spent some time in France and Italy, and in 1551 he was accepted as a master in the painter’s guild in Antwerp eventually setting in Brussels. He was nicknamed ‘Peasant Bruegel’ or ‘Bruegel the Peasant’ for allegedly dressing like a peasant and mingle with the crowds at celebrations to help him to get authentic details for his genre paintings. He died in Brussels on 9 September 1569 and is buried in the Kapellekerk.