The Shivering Beggar

Robert Graves

 
Near Clapham village, where fields began,  
Saint Edward met a beggar man.  
It was Christmas morning, the church bells tolled,  
The old man trembled for the fierce cold.  
  
Saint Edward cried, "It is monstrous sin
A beggar to lie in rags so thin!  
An old gray-beard and the frost so keen:  
I shall give him my fur-lined gaberdine."  
  
He stripped off his gaberdine of scarlet  
And wrapped it round the aged varlet,  
Who clutched at the folds with a muttered curse,  
Quaking and chattering seven times worse.  
  
Said Edward, "Sir, it would seem you freeze  
Most bitter at your extremities.  
Here are gloves and shoes and stockings also,
That warm upon your way you may go."  
  
The man took stocking and shoe and glove,  
Blaspheming Christ our Saviourís love,  
Yet seemed to find but little relief,  
Shaking and shivering like a leaf.  
  
Said the saint again, "I have no great riches,  
Yet take this tunic, take these breeches,  
My shirt and my vest, take everything,  
And give due thanks to Jesus the King."  
  
The saint stood naked upon the snow  
Long miles from where he was lodged at Bowe,  
Praying, "O God! my faith, it grows faint!  
This would try the temper of any saint.  
  
"Make clean my heart, Almighty, I pray,  
And drive these sinful thoughts away.    
Make clean my heart if it be Thy will,  
This damned old rascalís shivering still!"  
  
He stooped, he touched the beggar manís shoulder;  
He asked him did the frost nip colder?  
"Frost!" said the beggar, "no, stupid lad!
íTis the palsy makes me shiver so bad."
 

Poems by This Author

A Slice of Wedding Cake by Robert Graves
Babylon by Robert Graves
The child alone a poet is
I Wonder What It Feels Like to be Drowned? by Robert Graves
Look at my knees
Not Dead by Robert Graves
Walking through trees to cool my heat and pain
The Caterpillar by Robert Graves
Under this loop of honeysuckle
The Spoilsport by Robert Graves
My familiar ghost again
To Juan at the Winter Solstice by Robert Graves


Further Reading

Poems About Christmas
A Christmas Carol
by Christina Rossetti
A Christmas Carol
by George Wither
A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clark Moore
Christmas Away from Home
by Jane Kenyon
Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christmas Trees
by Robert Frost
Noël
by Anne Porter
Noël: Christmas Eve 1913
by Robert Bridges
On the Morning of Christís Nativity
by John Milton
Taking Down the Tree
by Jane Kenyon
The Mahogany Tree
by William Makepeace Thackeray
The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy
The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman (1487)
by Emily Dickinson
Toward the Winter Solstice
by Timothy Steele