Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Carnival in Binche

Shrove Tuesday – our prelude to Lent
Has crept up unawares
To have a pancake my intent
But my crowded diary stares.

There is no time for milk and flour
And all my eggs are eaten
I have work for every daylight hour
And a long-fixed evening meeting.

Here in Belgium it’s a special day
Known throughout the nation
Where the Gilles de Binche hold sway
With their noisy celebration.

With champagne and oysters they begin
Their dance through crowded streets
Drums and pipes make lively din
In the Grand’place each group meets.

The white mask hides each neighbour’s face
The costumes carefully sewn
(Textiles once thrived in this place)
The whole town is a clone!

Their trademark headgear – ostrich plumes
In afternoon display
Pelted with oranges one assumes
Before they’re put away.

Surreal survivor of the past
By UNESCO recognised
The carnival in Binche’s a masque
That dazzles modern eyes.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


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