Christmas Eve

Ella Higginson - 1862-1940
Straight thro’ a fold of purple mist
   The sun goes down—a crimson wheel—
And like an opal burns the sea
   That once was cold as steel.

With pomp of purple, gold and red,
   Thou wilt come back at morrow’s dawn…
But thou can’st never bring, O Sun,
   The Christmas that is gone!

More by Ella Higginson

Dream-Time

It is the time when crimson stars
     Weary of heaven’s cold delight,
And take, like petals from a rose,
     Their soft and hesitating flight
Upon the cool wings of the air
     Across the purple night.

It is the time when silver sails
     Go drifting down the violet sea,
And every poppy’s crimson mouth
     Kisses to sleep a lovesick bee;
The fireweed waves her rosy plumes
     On pasture, hill and lea.

It is the time to dream—and feel
     The lanquid rocking of a boat,
The pushing ripple round the keel
     Where cool, deep-hearted lilies float,
And hear thro’ wild syringas steal
     Some songster’s drowsy note.

It is the time, at eve, to lie
     And in a hammock faintly sway,
To watch the golds and crimsons die
     Across the blue stretch of the bay;
To hear the sweet dusk tiptoe by
     In the footsteps of the day.

April

Ah, who is this with twinkling feet,
With glad, young eyes and laughter sweet,
     Who tosses back her strong, wild hair,
     And saucy kisses flings to Care,
     The while she laughs at her? Beware—
You who this winsome maiden meet!

She dances on a daisied throne,
About her waist a slender zone
     Of dandelion’s gold; her eyes
     Are softer than the summer skies,
     And blue as violets; and lies
A tearful laughter in her tone.

She reaches dimpled arms and bare;
Her breath is sweet as wild-rose air;
     She sighs, she smiles, she glances down,
     Her brows meet in a sudden frown;
     She laughs; then tears the violets drown—
If you should meet her—ah, beware!

A Thank-Offering

Lord God, the winter has been sweet and brief
     In this fair land;
For us the budded willow and the leaf,
     The peaceful strand.

For us the silver nights and golden days,
     The violet mist;
The pearly clouds pierced with vibrating rays
     Of amethyst.

At evening, every wave of our blue sea
     Hollowed to hold
A fragment of the sunset’s mystery—
     A fleck of gold.

The crimson haze is on the alder trees
     In places lush;
Already sings with sweet and lyric ease
     The western thrush.

Lord God, for some of us the days and years
     Have bitter been;
For some of us the burden and the tears,
     The gnawing sin.

For some of us, O God, the scanty store,
     The failing bin;
For some of us the gray wolf at the door,
     The red, within!

But to the hungry Thou hast given meat,
     Hast clothed the cold;
And Thou hast given courage strong and sweet
     To the sad and old.

And so we thank Thee, Thou most tender God,
     For the leaf and flower;
For the tempered winds, and quickening, velvet sod,
     And the gracious shower.

Yea, generous God, we thank Thee for this land
     Where all are fed,
Where at the doors no freezing beggars stand,
     Pleading for bread.

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Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."