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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,
There when I came, whom found I but my dear,

My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to him, ready there

To be all passengers' most sweet relief?
O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light,

Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger ;
Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right,

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?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds

Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is thy word ; the streams, thy grace

Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers

Outsing the daylight hours.
Then we will chide the sun for letting night

Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should

Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun

Shall stay till we have done ;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,

As frost-night suns look sadly.


Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another

IIis beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till e’en his beams sing, and my music shine.



SWEET Music, sweeter far

Than any song is sweet :
Sweet Music heavenly rare,


O peers, doth greet.
You gentle flocks-whose flecces, pearled with dew,

Resemble IIeaven, whom golden drops make bright-
Listen, O listen, now; O not to you
Our pipes make sport to shorten weary night,
But voices most divine

Make blissful harmony;
Voices that seem to shine,

For what else clears the sky?
Tunes can we hear, but not the singers sce:
The tune's divine, and so the singers be.

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Lo, how the firmament

Within an azure fold
The flock of stars hath pent,

That we might them behold.
Yet from their beams procecdeth not this light,

Nor can their crystals such reflection give.
What then doth make the clement so bright?

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.
Angels they are, as also Shepherds, He
Whom in our fear we do admire to see.

Let not amazement blind

Your souls, said he, annoy:
To you and all mankind

My message bringeth joy.
For lo, the world's great Shepherd now is born,

A blessed Babe, an Infant full of power :
After long night, up-risen is the morn,
Renowning Bethlem in the Saviour.
Sprung is the perfect day,

By prophets seen afar,
Sprung is the mirthful May,

Which Winter cannot mar.
In David's city doth this Sun appear,
Clouded in flesh, yet Shepherds sit we here.

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes,
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time."


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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,


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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,

Old Winter,"
quoted in Division VI. of the present work.



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NEXT came the chill December :

Yet he, through merry feasting which he made
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember;

His Saviour's birth his mind so much did glad :
Upon a shaggy bearded goat he rode,

The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender years,
They say, was nourished by th’ Iæan maid ;

And in his hand a broad deep bowl he bears,
Of which he freely drinks an health to all his peers.

Lastly, came Winter clothed all in frieze,

Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill;
Whilst on his hoary beard his breath did freeze,

And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill

As from a limbeck did adown distil :
Irrhis right hand a tipped staff he held,

With which his feeble steps he stayed still;
For he was faint with cold, and weak with eld ;
That scarce his loosed limbs he able was to wield.

by 뱃

W. Shakspeare


When icicles hang by the wall,

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,

And milk comes frozen home in pail ;

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