This blog's poems are from my published poetry book Star Steeds and Other Dreams: The Collected Poems (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2009) and are © Dr Karl P.N. Shuker, 2009. Except for author-credited review purposes, it is strictly forbidden to reproduce any of these poems elsewhere, either in part or in entirety, by any means, without my written permission.

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Monday 20 December 2010


This poem borrows, adapts, and interweaves a number of separate strands – the legend that the cruciform marking present on every donkey’s back was placed there by Jesus in gratitude for being carried by one of their kind during His triumphant procession into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday; the idea of that particular donkey being granted immortality, so that it has secretly survived in unchanging form down through all the centuries into the present day; and its chance discovery one Christmas morning by a group of children who have no idea of its origin or significance.


Christmas drifts silently downwards ‘ere Morning
Rises from dreams through the depths of the sky,
Softly caressing each child wrapped in slumber –
Sleeping in peace as the stars twinkle by.

And in a field stands a little brown donkey,
Gazing through Space from an icicled world,
Nuzzling the snow with his soft velvet muzzle,
Shaking its crystals from eyelashes curled.

Now, as he pauses, the dawn flushes brightly,
Blushing like rose petals strewn from Above,
Waking the children with murmurs from Morning,
Carolling joyfully anthems of Love.

Soon they chase merrily into the garden,
And as they sing of what Christmas will yield,
One of them points to the little brown donkey,
Standing alone in the snow-covered field.

Swiftly they race through the shimmering snowflakes,
Up to his paddock with eager delight,
Each to embrace him with warm, tender kisses,
Melting the snow in its spiralling flight.

And as he brays in the midst of the children,
Gaily they deck him with tinsel and flowers –
Joyfully plucked from their Christmas tree’s branches –
Glistening brightly in colourful showers.

But as the heavens’ first frost-killing sunlight
Glints from each bauble and gleams from each boss,
Softly a shadow falls over his shoulders,
Sombre and still in the shape of a Cross.

And as he stands there, a tear trickles slowly
Down through his lashes in sorrowful flight,
As he remembers through centuries countless,
Whom he’d once carried with love and delight.

Palms and hosannas regaled him in triumph,
There on his back sat our Saviour and Lord,
Smiling and nodding to people and children,
Standing all round in a vast, cheering hoard.

“Why did they spurn Him, betray Him, and kill Him –
Nailed to that Cross and then left there to die?”
Still the poor donkey weeps long at the memory,
Held for Eternity deep in his eyes.

And as the children, not seeing his sorrow,
Run away laughing, the donkey’s warm heart
Burns with a passionate love so intense that
Not e’en the chill of the icicles’ darts

E’er could refrigerate, e’er could extinguish,
Burning in silence this cold Christmas Day,
Lingering still, like the Cross’s dark shadow –
Borne from a green hill so far, far away.

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