Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Carol

   The shepherds went their hasty way,
      And found the lowly stable-shed
   Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
      And now they checked their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung.

   They told her how a glorious light,
      Streaming from a heavenly throng,
   Around them shone, suspending night!
      While sweeter than a mother's song,
Blest Angels heralded the Saviour's birth,
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.

   She listened to the tale divine,
      And closer still the Babe she pressed;
   And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
      The milk rushed faster to her breast:
Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn;
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.

   Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
      Poor, simple, and of low estate!
   That strife should vanish, battle cease,
      O why should this thy soul elate?
Sweet Music's loudest note, the Poet's story,——
Didst thou ne'er love to hear of fame and glory?

   And is not War a youthful king,
      A stately Hero clad in mail?
   Beneath his footsteps laurels spring;
      Him Earth's majestic monarchs hail
Their friend, their playmate! and his bold bright eye
Compels the maiden's love-confessing sigh.

  'Tell this in some more courtly scene,
      To maids and youths in robes of state!
   I am a woman poor and mean,
      And therefore is my soul elate.
War is a ruffian, all with guilt defiled,
That from the agéd father tears his child!

  'A murderous fiend, by fiends adored,
      He kills the sire and starves the son;
   The husband kills, and from her board
      Steals all his widow's toil had won;
Plunders God's world of beauty; rends away
All safety from the night, all comfort from the day.

  'Then wisely is my soul elate,
      That strife should vanish, battle cease:
   I'm poor and of a low estate,
      The Mother of the Prince of Peace.
Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.'

 —Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)



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