Sunday, 15 January 2017

Cold Christ Child

Dear Reader,







                                                                                Morris Dancers

I read that in Birmingham this week a group of Morris dancers were forced to abandon a performance after they were accused of being racist, because they had blackened their faces.  I wondered why they do this and found that the tradition of rural English dancers blackening their faces may be a form of disguise, or a reference to the Moors or even to miners.  The origins of the practice remain unclear and are a matter for ongoing debate.  Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance accompanied by music, often an accordion or flute.  It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers usually wearing bell pads on their shins.  Sticks, swords and handkerchiefs are often also wielded by the dancers.  It is unclear how the dance got its name, but apparently it arose as a part of a wider 15th-century European fashion for supposedly "Moorish" spectacles.  Morris dancers perform in the small market town where I live, at the annual street fair,  and they are most entertaining to watch.

                                                                           *

Cold Christ Child

Why did Murillo, Fra Filippo Lippi,
Leonardo da Vinci paint
the Christ Child nude?
Did they not know of night-time cold?

Was the hot Levantine wind
blowing in the midday sun,
enough to stay the chill of evening
and warm this precious child?

They painted the Madonna in a dress,
the soldiers fully clad
in jerkins, amour, helmets,
the angels in sumptuous robes,
but the Christ Child is left on marble floors,
or dandled in laps,
with nothing to swaddle and secure him.

Could it be that this cold start
was not enough
to set alight the love
needed to save us all?

                                                                         *

With best wishes,   Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah Patricia, what wonderful observations. Whoever would have thought of a Moorish connection with Morris Dancing! And that poor cold baby Christ Child with not even a nappy!
Thank you as always for an entertaining, informative blog and a lovely, thoughtful poem. xx