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All after pleasures as I rid one day,
My horse and I, both tired, body and mind, With full cry of affections, quite astray,
I took up in the next inn I could find,
My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
To be all passengers' most sweet relief?
Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger ;
To man of all beasts be not thou a stranger : Furnish and deck my soul, that thou mayst have A better lodging, than a rack or grave.
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
Enriching all the place.
Outsing the daylight hours.
Take up his place and right:
Himself the candle hold.
Shall stay till we have done ;
As frost-night suns look sadly.
THE SHEPHERD's song.
Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,
THE SHEPHERD'S SONG.
SWEET Music, sweeter far
Than any song is sweet :
O peers, doth greet.
Resemble IIeaven, whom golden drops make bright-
Make blissful harmony;
For what else clears the sky?
Lo, how the firmament
Within an azure fold
That we might them behold.
Nor can their crystals such reflection give.
The heavens are come down upon earth to live.
But hearken to the song,
Glory to Glory's King,
all men among,
These choristers do sing.
Let not amazement blind
Your souls, said he, annoy:
My message bringeth joy.
A blessed Babe, an Infant full of power :
By prophets seen afar,
Which Winter cannot mar.
“Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes,
The following extracts comprise descriptions of Winter and the Christmas season, by the three greatest poets of the Elizabethan era, viz., Shakspeare, Spenser, and Jonson. Like the mere fragment quoted from Chaucer, these are the slightest possible sketches; and yet the song of Shakspeare's, from “ As you like it,” furnishes us with a picture in every line, and leaves us cause for regret, that this poem with the Holly song, given a few pages further on, and the few lines quoted above,
comprise the whole that the poet of all time has written relative to our subject. Jonson, as is well known, wrote a masque entitled “ Christmas,” but the verses it contains are the veriest doggrel, and the wit it is seasoned with is of the smallest quality; we therefore refrain from printing an extract from it, but give, instead, a quotation from one of his poems, published under the title of " The Forest.”
The stanzas by Spenser are from one of the imperfect books of the Fairy Queen.” It was evidently this description of Winter which Southey had in mind when he wrote the sonnet commencing,
“A wrinkled, crabbed man they picture thee,
NEXT came the chill December :
Yet he, through merry feasting which he made
His Saviour's birth his mind so much did glad :
The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender years,
And in his hand a broad deep bowl he bears,
Lastly, came Winter clothed all in frieze,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill;
And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill
As from a limbeck did adown distil :
With which his feeble steps he stayed still;