Tea and Technological Gremlins

This evening’s post is brought to you by the final straw in technological demons. But more on that later.

We got a lovely Rooibos from Germany today. This one was supposed to taste like plum cake, so had lots of plum, apple and cinnamon in it. In practice it’s more like hot plum crumble, but no complaints here. It had snowed again today so the warmth and spice of it was perfect for late afternoon, especially after lugging reluctant dachshunds around the ravine. We happen to think the snow is pretty. They feel differently.

DavidsTea, probably fearing what we’d do faced with another black tea, yielded another herbal blend. This one was called Merry Mistletoe. We poked about for the ingredients, and apparently cranberry and cloves are in there, but we couldn’t taste either. It pours out pink, so clearly the cranberry was in there. It probably needed longer to steep. That’s always our downfall with herbal teas. Anyway, we liked it well enough; it’s a bit sweet, a bit tart, and it smells lovely.

Inspired by the name on the Merry Mistletoe, here’s some Walter Scott for you today.

Christmas in the Olden Time
Walter Scott

Heap on more wood! — the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deemed the new born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.
And well our Christian sires of old.
Loved when the year its course had rolled,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night:
On Christmas eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hail was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry men go,
To gather in the mistletoe,
Then open wide the baron’s hail
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair!”
All hailed with uncontroll’d delight
And general voice, the happy night
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire with well dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hail table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon: its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old, blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbon, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce
At such high tide her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visor made
But oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
’Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale,
’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
A poor man’s heart through half the year.

Apologies for the lack of stanzas. The internet threw a fit, and frankly we just couldn’t face it. From what we can tell the stanza breaks for this excerpt of Marmion are pretty arbitrary anyway. But since it’s always something with this blog we can just about guarantee tomorrow’s poem will be Ted Hughes famous disavowal of technology! Stay tuned…

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