(Algernon Charles Swinburne)

A Christmas Carol

THREE DAMSELS in the queens chamber,
The queens mouth was most fair;
She spake a word of Gods mother
As the combs went in her hair.
Mary that is of might,
Bring us to thy Sons sight.

They held the gold combs out from her,
A spans length off her head;
She sang this song of Gods mother
And of her bearing-bed.
Mary most full of grace,
Bring us to thy Sons face.

When she sat at Josephs hand,
She looked against her side;
And either way from the short silk band
Her girdle was all wried.
Mary that all good may,
Bring us to thy Sons way.

Mary had three women for her bed,
The twain were maidens clean;
The first of them had white and red,
The third had riven green.
Mary that is so sweet,
Bring us to thy Sons feet.

She had three women for her hair,
Two were gloved soft and shod;
The third had feet and fingers bare,
She was the likest God.
Mary that wieldeth land,
Bring us to thy Sons hand.

She had three women for her ease,
The twain were good women:
The first two were the two Maries,
The third was Magdalen.
Mary that perfect is,
Bring us to thy Sons kiss.

Joseph had three workmen in his stall,
To serve him well upon;
The first of them were Peter and Paul,
The third of them was John.
Mary, Gods handmaiden,
Bring us to thy Sons ken.

If your child be none other mans,
But if it be very mine,
The bedstead shall be gold two spans,
The bedfoot silver fine.
Mary that made God mirth,
Bring us to thy Sons birth.

If the child be some other mans,
And if it be none of mine,
The manger shall be straw two spans,
Betwixen kine and kine.
Mary that made sin cease,
Bring us to thy Sons peace.

Christ was born upon this wise,
It fell on such a night,
Neither with sounds of psalteries,
Nor with fire for light.
Mary that is Gods spouse,
Bring us to thy Sons house.

The star came out upon the east
With a great sound and sweet:
Kings gave gold to make him feast
And myrrh for him to eat.
Mary, of thy sweet mood,
Bring us to thy Sons good.

He had two handmaids at his head,
One handmaid at his feet;
The twain of them were fair and red,
The third one was right sweet.
Mary that is most wise,
Bring us to thy Sons eyes. Amen. 

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