Christmas Poems » An Old English Christmas-Tide

Thrice holy ring, afar and wide,
The merry bells this Christmas-tide;
Afar and wide, through hushed snow,
From ivied minster-portico,
Sweet anthems swell to tell the tale
Of that young babe the shepherds hail
Sitting amid their nibbling flocks
What time the Hallelujah shocks
The drowsy earth, and Cherubim
Break through the heaven with harp and hymn.

Belated birds sing tingling notes
To warm apace their chilly throats,
Or they, mayhap, have caught the story
And pipe their part from branches hoary;
While up aloft, his tempered beams
The sun has poured in gentle streams,
Sending o'er snowy hill and dell
A pleasance to greet the Christmas bell!
Now every yeoman starts abroad
For holly green and the ivy-tod;
Good folk to kirk are soon atrip
Mellow with cheer and good-fellowship,
And cosey chimneys, here and there
Puff forth the sweets o' Christmas fare.

Ho! rosy wenches and merry men
From over the hill and field and fen,
Great store is here, the drifts between
Of myrtle red-berried, and mistletoe green!
Ho, Phyllis and Kate and bonny Nell
Come hither, and buffet the goodmen well,
An they gather not for hall and hearth,
Fair bays to grace the evening mirth.
Aye, laugh ye well! and echoed wide
Your voices sing through the Christmas-tide,
And wintry winds emblend their tones
At the minster-eaves with the organ groans:
The carols meet with laughter sweet
In a gay embrace mid the drifting sleet.

Anon the weary sun's at rest,
And clouds that hovered all day by,
Like silver arras down the sky
Enfold him--while the winds are whist--
But not the Christmas jollity,
For, little space, and wassail high
Flows at the board; and hautboys sound
The tripping dance and merry round.
Here youths and maidens stand in row
Kissing beneath the mistletoe;
And many a tale of midnight rout
O' Christmas-tide the woods about,
Of faery meetings beneath the moon
In wintry blast or summer swoon,
Goes round the hearth, while all aglow
The yule-log crackles the crane below.

Drink hael! good folk, by the chimney side,
O sweet's the holy Christmas-tide!
Drink hael! Drink hael! and pledge again:
"Here's peace on earth, good-will to men!"

- H. S. M.


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