The Christmas Carol



The minstrels played their Christmas tune

To-night beneath my cottage eaves;

While, smitten by a lofty moon,

The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,

Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen

That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze

Had sunk to rest, with folded wings:

Keen was the air, but could not freeze

Nor check the music of the strings;

So stout and hardy were the band

That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!

And who but listened--till was paid

Respect to every inmate's claim:

The greeting given, the music played,

In honor of each household name,

Duly pronounced with lusty call,

And Merry Christmas wished to all!

How touching, when, at midnight, sweep

Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,

To hear, and sink again to sleep!

Or, at an earlier call, to mark

By blazing fire, the still suspense

Of self-complacent innocence;

The mutual nod,--the grave disguise

Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;

And some unbidden tears that rise

For names once heard, and heard no more;

Tears brightened by the serenade

For infant in the cradle laid.

Hail ancient Manners! sure defence,

Where they survive, of wholesome laws;

Remnants of love whose modest sense

Thus into narrow room withdraws;

Hail, Usages of pristine mould,

And ye that guard them, Mountains old!