My poet of the moment, Malcolm Guite, has tackled this tragic subject in his latest sonnet, ‘Refugee’:
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.
The musician Steve Bell has reworked the sonnet as a basis for a newly-composed song, with an ironic contrast between the lyric and the music:
Giotto di Bondone: the Flight into Egypt
The poem is from Guite’s collection ‘Sounding the Seasons’: the music from Steve Bell’s album ‘Keening for the Dawn’.