Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

This poem got written as the result of a conversation with an eight-year-old girl, Josephine Mackinnon, about Christmas trees. She said this: "If you don't have a real tree, you don't bring the Christmas life into the house."

The Christmas Life

The Christmas Life

Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.
Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold -
Bring the Christmas life into this house.

Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,
Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.
Bring in your memories of Christmas past.
Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.

Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,
Bring in the stillness of an icy night,
Bring in a birth, of hope and love and light.
Bring the Christmas life into this house.

From If I Don't Know (Faber and Faber, 2001), copyright © Wendy Cope 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher.


Wendy Cope reading her poems

1An Attempt at Unrhymed Verse

2From Strugnell's Sonnets: The expense of spirits is a crying shame...

3God and The Jolly Bored Bog-Mouse

4Strugnell's Haiku

5Waste Land Limericks

6A Policeman's Lot

7Reading Scheme

8A Nursery Rhyme as it might have been written by William Wordsworth

9A Nursery Rhyme as it might have been written by T. S. Eliot

10Rondeau Redoublé

11My Lover

12Tich Miller


14Defining the Problem 15Loss

16Some More Light Verse

17Favourite 18Another Unfortunate Choice 19A Christmas Poem 20Kindness to Animals


22The Uncertainty of the Poet

23In The Rhine Valley

24After the Lunch

25Nine-line Triolet

26Valentine 27Leaving 28Bloody Men 29As Sweet

30The Christmas Life

31By The Round Pond

32Haiku: Looking Out of the Back Bedroom Window without My Glasses 33Timekeeping

3430th December

35Differences of Opinion (i) He Tells Her

36Differences of Opinion (ii) Your Mother Knows (unpublished)

37The Sitter

38Les Vacances

39Being Boring

40On a Train


42An Anniversary Poem

43The Month of May