- skies are pale, the trees are stiff, The earth is dull and old;
- frost is glittering as if The very sun were cold.
- hunger fell is joined with frost, To make men thin and wan:
Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost;
Be born, O child of man.
- children cry, the women shake, The strong men stare about;
They sleep when they should be awake,
They wake ere night is out.
- they have lost their heritage-- No sweat is on their brow:
Come, babe, and bring them work and wage;
Be born, and save us now.
Across the sea, beyond our sight,
Roars on the fierce debate;
- men go down in bloody fight, The women weep and hate;
- in the right be which that may, Surely the strife is long!
Come, son of man, thy righteous way,
And right will have no wrong.
Good men speak lies against thine own--
Tongue quick, and hearing slow;
They will not let thee walk alone,
And think to serve thee so:
If they the children's freedom saw
In thee, the children's king,
They would be still with holy awe,
Or only speak to sing.
Some neither lie nor starve nor fight,
Nor yet the poor deny;
- in their hearts all is not right,-- They often sit and sigh.
We need thee every day and hour,
In sunshine and in snow:
Child-king, we pray with all our power--
Be born, and save us so.
We are but men and women, Lord;
Thou art a gracious child!
O fill our hearts, and heap our board,
Pray thee--the winter's wild!
- sky is sad, the trees are bare, Hunger and hate about:
Come, child, and ill deeds and ill fare
Will soon be driven out.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Babe Jesus lay in Mary's lap,
The sun shone in his hair;
- this was how she saw, mayhap, The crown already there.
- she sang: "Sleep on, my little king; Bad Herod dares not come;
Before thee sleeping, holy thing,
The wild winds would be dumb."
"I kiss thy hands, I kiss thy feet,
My child, so long desired;
- hands will never be soiled, my sweet; Thy feet will never be tired."
"For thou art the king of men, my son;
Thy crown I see it plain!
- men shall worship thee, every one, And cry, Glory! Amen!"
Babe Jesus he opened his eyes wide--
At Mary looked her lord.
Mother Mary stinted her song and sighed;
Babe Jesus said never a word.
THE SLEEPLESS JESUS.
'Tis time to sleep, my little boy:
Why gaze thy bright eyes so?
At night our children, for new joy
Home to thy father go,
- thou art wakeful! Sleep, my child; The moon and stars are gone;
- wind is up and raving wild, But thou art smiling on!
My child, thou hast immortal eyes
That see by their own light;
They see the children's blood--it lies
Red-glowing through the night!
Thou hast an ever-open ear
For sob or cry or moan:
Thou seemest not to see or hear,
Thou only smilest on!
When first thou camest to the earth,
All sounds of strife were still;
A silence lay about thy birth,
And thou didst sleep thy fill:
Thou wakest now--why weep'st thou not?
Thy earth is woe-begone;
Both babes and mothers wail their lot,
But still thou smilest on!
I read thy face like holy book;
No hurt is pictured there;
Deep in thine eyes I see the look
Of one who answers prayer.
Beyond pale grief and wild uproars,
Thou seest God's will well done;
- prayers, through chambers' closed doors, Thou hear'st--and smilest on.
Men say: "I will arise and go;"
God says: "I will go meet:"
Thou seest them gather, weeping low,
About the Father's feet;
- each for each begin to bear, And standing lonely none:
Answered, O eyes, ye see all prayer!
Smile, Son of God, smile on.
Christmas-Days are still in store:--
Will they change--steal faded hither?
Or come fresh as heretofore,
Summering all our winter weather?
Surely they will keep their bloom
All the countless pacing ages:
In the country whence they come
Children only are the sages!
Hither, every hour and year,
Children come to cure our oldness--
Oft, alas, to gather sear
Unbelief, and earthy boldness!
- they grow and women cold, Selfish, passionate, and plaining!
Ever faster they grow old:--
On the world, ah, eld is gaining!
Child, whose childhood ne'er departs!
Jesus, with the perfect father!
Drive the age from parents' hearts;
To thy heart the children gather.
Send thy birth into our souls,
With its grand and tender story.
Hark! the gracious thunder rolls!--
News to men! to God old glory!
Though in my heart no Christmas glee,
Though my song-bird be dumb,
Jesus, it is enough for me
That thou art come.
What though the loved be scattered far,
Few at the board appear,
In thee, O Lord, they gathered are,
And thou art here.
- if our hearts be low with lack, They are not therefore numb;
- always will thy day come back-- Thyself will come!
AN OLD STORY.