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Poem by Henry Timrod


         How grace this hallowed day?
     Shall happy bells, from yonder ancient spire,
     Send their glad greetings to each Christmas fire
         Round which the children play?

         Alas! for many a moon,
     That tongueless tower hath cleaved the Sabbath air,
     Mute as an obelisk of ice, aglare
         Beneath an Arctic noon.

         Shame to the foes that drown
     Our psalms of worship with their impious drum,
     The sweetest chimes in all the land lie dumb
         In some far rustic town.

         There, let us think, they keep,
     Of the dead Yules which here beside the sea
     They've ushered in with old-world, English glee,
         Some echoes in their sleep.

         How shall we grace the day?
     With feast, and song, and dance, and antique sports,
     And shout of happy children in the courts,
         And tales of ghost and fay?

         Is there indeed a door,
     Where the old pastimes, with their lawful noise,
     And all the merry round of Christmas joys,
         Could enter as of yore?

         Would not some pallid face
     Look in upon the banquet, calling up
     Dread shapes of battles in the wassail cup,
         And trouble all the place?

         How could we bear the mirth,
     While some loved reveler of a year ago
     Keeps his mute Christmas now beneath the snow,
         In cold Virginian earth?

         How shall we grace the day?
     Ah! let the thought that on this holy morn
     The Prince of Peacethe Prince of Peace was born,
         Employ us, while we pray!

         Pray for the peace which long
     Hath left this tortured land, and haply now
     Holds its white court on some far mountain's brow,
         There hardly safe from wrong!

         Let every sacred fane
     Call its sad votaries to the shrine of God,
     And, with the cloister and the tented sod,
         Join in one solemn strain!

         With pomp of Roman form,
     With the grave ritual brought from England's shore,
     And with the simple faith which asks no more
         Than that the heart be warm!

         He, who, till time shall cease,
     Will watch that earth, where once, not all in vain,
     He died to give us peace, may not disdain
         A prayer whose theme ispeace.

         Perhaps ere yet the Spring
     Hath died into the Summer, over all
     The land, the peace of His vast love shall fall,
         Like some protecting wing.

         Oh, ponder what it means!
     Oh, turn the rapturous thought in every way!
     Oh, give the vision and the fancy play,
         And shape the coming scenes!

         Peace in the quiet dales,
     Made rankly fertile by the blood of men,
     Peace in the woodland, and the lonely glen,
         Peace in the peopled vales!

         Peace in the crowded town,
     Peace in a thousand fields of waving grain,
     Peace in the highway and the flowery lane,
         Peace on the wind-swept down!

         Peace on the farthest seas,
     Peace in our sheltered bays and ample streams,
     Peace wheresoe'er our starry garland gleams,
         And peace in every breeze!

         Peace on the whirring marts,
     Peace where the scholar thinks, the hunter roams,
     Peace, God of Peace! peace, peace, in all our homes,
         And peace in all our hearts!

Henry Timrod

Henry Timrod's other poems:
  1. To Whom?
  2. A Dedication
  3. Too Long, O Spirit of Storm
  4. Two Portraits
  5. The Arctic Voyager

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Walter Scott Christmas ("The glowing censers, and their rich perfume")
  • John Clare Christmas ("Christmas is come and every hearth")
  • Edith Nesbit Christmas ("WITH garlands to grace it, with laughter to greet it")

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