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Poem by Bessie Rayner Parkes

A Carol for Willie

CHRISTMAS comes, Christmas comes,
Blessing wheresoe'er he roams,
And he calls the little children
Cluster'd in a thousand homes.

Stand you still, my little children,
For a moment while I sing,
Wreath'd together in a ring,
With your tiny hands embracing
In a snowy interlacing,
And your rich curls dropping down,
Golden, black, and auburn-brown,
Over bluest little eyes;
Toss them back in sweet surprise
While my pretty song I sing.

I have apples, I have cakes,
Icicles, and snowy flakes,
Hanging on each naked bough;
Sugar strawberries and cherries,
Misletoe and holly-berries
Nail'd above the glorious show.

I have presents rich and rare,
Beauties which I do not spare,

For my little children dear;
At my steps the casements lighten,
Sourest human faces brighten,
And the carols, music strange,
Float in their melodious change
On the night wind cold and drear.

Listen now, my little children,--
All these things I give to you,
And you love me, dearly love me
(Witness'd in your welcome true).
Why do I thus yearly scatter,
With retreating of the sun,
Sweetmeats, holiday, and fun?
There must be something much the matter
Where my wine-streams do not run.

Once I was no more than might be
Any season of the year;
No kind tapers shone to light me
On my way advancing here;
No small children rush'd to meet me,
Happy human smiles to greet me;
True, it was a while ago.
But I mind me it was so,
Then believe me, children dear.

Till one foggy cold December,
Eighteen hoary centuries past,
(Thereabouts as I remember,)
Came a voice upon the blast,
And a strange star in the heaven
One said that unto us was given

A Saviour and a Brother kind;
The star upon my head shed down
Of golden beams this living crown,
The birthday-gift of Jesus Christ,
Whereby my glory might be known.

You all keep your little birthdays;
Keep likewise your fathers', mothers',
Little sisters', little brothers';
To commemorate this birth
Sings aloud the exulting earth!
Every age and all professions,
In all distance--parted nations,
Meet together at this time
In spirit, while the church-bells chime.
Little children, dance and play,
We will join; but likewise pray
At morning, thinking of the day
I have told you I remember
In a bleak and cold December,
Long ago and far away.

Bessie Rayner Parkes

Bessie Rayner Parkes's other poems:
  1. On a Group of Justice and Charity
  2. The Little Bird
  3. At First
  4. Up the River
  5. The Old Chateau

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