A Christmas Carol

- 1772-1834

I.

   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.

II.

   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.

III.

   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.

IV.

   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,—
Did’st thou ne’er love to hear of Fame and Glory?

V.

   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.

VI.

   “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 aged Father tears his Child!

VII.

   “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.

VIII.

   “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.”   

More by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Answer to a Child's Question

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he—
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"

Christabel [excerpt]

Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
And slowly rolled her eyes around;
Then drawing in her breath aloud,
Like one that shuddered, she unbound
The cincture from beneath her breast:
Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom, and half her side—
A sight to dream of, not to tell!
O shield her! shield sweet Christabel!

Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs;
Ah! what a stricken look was hers!
Deep from within she seems half-way
To lift some weight with sick assay,
And eyes the maid and seeks delay;
Then suddenly as one defied
Collects herself in scorn and pride,
And lay down by the Maiden's side!—
And in her arms the maid she took,
   Ah wel-a-day!
And with low voice and doleful look
   These words did say:
'In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell,
Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel!

This Lime Tree Bower My Prison

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge;—that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.

                                  Now, my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.
                                            A delight
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path across the dusky air
Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.