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ODE ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring ;
For so the holy sages once did sing
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious Form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside ; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to he Infant-God ?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
20 And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.
It was the winter wild
While the heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ;
Nature in awe to him
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize :
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw ;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing ;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around :
The idle spear and shield were high uphung ;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood ;
The trumpet spake not to the arméd throng ;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began :
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist
Whispering new joys to the mild Oceán-
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charméd wave.
The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence ;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence ;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlightend world no more should need ;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn
Or ere the point of dawn
Sate simply chatting in a rustic row ;
Full little thought they than
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet
As never was by mortal finger strook-
Answering the stringéd noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Nature that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat the aery region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all heaven and earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light