Christmas Tide

- 1818-1889
                    
          When the merry spring time weaves
          Its peeping bloom and dewy leaves;
          When the primrose opes its eye,
          And the young moth flutters by;
          When the plaintive turtle dove
          Pours its notes of peace and love;
And the clear sun flings its glory bright and wide—
          Yet, my soul will own
          More joy in winter's frown,
And wake with warmer flush at Christmas tide.

          The summer beams may shine
          On the rich and curling vine,
          And the noon-tide rays light up
          The tulip's dazzling cup:
          But the pearly misletoe
          And the holly-berries' glow
Are not even by the boasted rose outvied;
          For the happy hearts beneath
          The green and coral wreath
Love the garlands that are twined at Christmas tide.

          Let the autumn days produce
          Yellow corn and purple juice,
          And Nature's feast be spread
          In the fruitage ripe and red;
          ’Tis grateful to behold
          Gushing grapes and fields of gold,
When cheeks are brown'd and red lips deeper dyed:
          But give, oh! give to me
          The winter night of glee,
The mirth and plenty seen at Christmas tide.

          The northern gust may howl,
          The rolling storm-cloud scowl,
          King Frost may make a slave
          Of the river's rapid wave,
          The snow-drift choke the path,
          Or the hail-shower spend its wrath;
But the sternest blast right bravely is defied,
          While limbs and spirits bound
          To the merry minstrel sound,
And social wood-fires blaze at Christmas tide.

          The song, the laugh, the shout,
          Shall mock the storm without;
          And sparkling wine-foam rise
          ’Neath still more sparkling eyes;
          The forms that rarely meet
          Then hand to hand shall greet,
And soul pledge soul that leagues too long divide.
          Mirth, friendship, love, and light
          Shall crown the winter night,
And every glad voice welcome Christmas tide.

          But while joy's echo falls 
          In gay and plenteous halls,
          Let the poor and lowly share
          The warmth, the sports, the fare;
          For the one of humble lot
          Must not shiver in his cot,
But claim a bounteous meed from wealth and pride.
          Shed kindly blessings round,
          Till no aching heart be found;
And then all hail to merry Christmas tide!


More by Eliza Cook

The Old Arm-Chair

I love it, I love it; and who shall dare
To chide me for loving that old arm-chair?
I’ve treasured it long as a sainted prize,
I’ve bedew’d it with tears, and embalmed it with sighs;
’Tis bound by a thousand bands to my heart;
Not a tie will break, not a link will start.
Would ye learn the spell? a mother sat there,
And a sacred thing is that old arm-chair.

In childhood’s hour I linger’d near
The hallow’d seat with list’ning ear;
And gentle words that mother would give,
To fit me to die and teach me to live.
She told me shame would never betide,
With truth for my creed and God for my guide;
She taught me to lisp my earliest prayer,
As I knelt beside that old arm-chair.

I sat and watch’d her many a day,
When her eye grew dim, and her locks were grey;
And I almost worshipp’d her when she smil’d
And turn’d from her Bible to bless her child.
Years roll’d on, but the last one sped—
My idol was shatter’d, my earth-star fled;
I learnt how much the heart can bear,
When I saw her die in that old arm-chair.

’Tis past! ’tis past! but I gaze on it now
With quivering breath and throbbing brow:
’Twas there she nursed me, ’twas there she died;
And memory flows with lava tide.
Say it is folly, and deem me weak,
While the scalding drops start down my cheek;
But I love it, I love it, and cannot tear
My soul from a mother’s old arm-chair.

Spring

Welcome, all hail to thee!
     Welcome, young Spring!
Thy sun-ray is bright
     On the butterfly’s wing.
Beauty shines forth
     In the blossom-robed trees;
Perfume floats by
     On the soft southern breeze.

Music, sweet music,
     Sounds over the earth;
One glad choral song
     Greets the primrose’s birth;
The lark soars above,
     With its shrill matin strain;
The shepherd boy tunes
     His reed pipe on the plain.

Music, sweet music,
     Cheers meadow and lea;—
In the song of the blackbird,
     The hum of the bee;
The loud happy laughter
     Of children at play
Proclaim how they worship
     Spring’s beautiful day.

The eye of the hale one,
     With joy in its gleam,
Looks up in the noontide,
     And steals from the beam;
But the cheek of the pale one
     Is mark’d with despair,
To feel itself fading,
     When all is so fair.

The hedges, luxuriant
     With flowers and balm,
Are purple with violets,
     And shaded with palm;
The zephyr-kiss’d grass
     Is beginning to wave;
Fresh verdure is decking
     The garden and grave.

Welcome! all hail to thee,
     Heart-stirring May!
Thou hast won from my wild harp
     A rapturous lay.
And the last dying murmur
     That sleeps on the string
Is welcome! All hail to thee,
     Welcome, young Spring!

Winter

We know ’tis good that old Winter should come,
Roving awhile from his Lapland home;
’Tis fitting that we should hear the sound
Of his reindeer sledge on the slippery ground:

For his wide and glittering cloak of snow
Protects the seeds of life below;
Beneath his mantle are nurtured and born
The roots of the flowers, the germs of the corn.

The whistling tone of his pure strong breath
Rides purging the vapours of pestilent death.
I love him, I say, and avow it again,
For God’s wisdom and might show well in his train.

But the naked—the poor! I know they quail
With crouching limbs from the biting gale;
They pine and starve by the fireless hearth,
And weep as they gaze on the frost-bound earth.

Stand nobly forth, ye rich of the land,
With kindly heart and bounteous hand;
Remember ’tis now their season of need,
And a prayer for help is a call ye must heed.

A few of thy blessings, a tithe of thy gold,
Will save the young, and cherish the old.
’Tis a glorious task to work such good—
Do it, ye great ones! Ye can, and ye should.

He is not worthy to hold from heaven
The trust reposed, the talents given,
Who will not add to the portion that’s scant,
In the pinching hours of cold and want.

Oh! listen in mercy, ye sons of wealth,
Basking in comfort and glowing with health;
Give whate’er ye can spare, and be ye sure
He serveth his Maker who aideth the poor.

Related Poems

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."