There is within this world of ours
Full many a happy home and hearth;
What time, the Saviour's blessed birth
Makes glad the gloom of wintry hours.
When back from severed shore and shore,
And over seas that vainly part,
The scattered embers of the heart
Glow round the parent hearth once more.
When those who now are anxious men,
Forget their growing years and cares;
Forget the time-flakes on their hairs,
And laugh, light-hearted boys again.
When those who now are wedded wives,
By children of their own embraced,
Recall their early joys, and taste
Anew the childhood of their lives.
And the old people--the good sire
And kindly parent-mother--glow
To feel their children's children throw
Fresh warmth around the Christmas fire.
When in the sweet colloquial din,
Unheard the sullen sleet-winds shout;
And though the winter rage without,
The social summer reigns within.
But in this wondrous world of ours
Are other circling kindred chords,
Binding poor harmless beasts and birds,
And the fair family of flowers.
That family that meet to-day
From many a foreign field and glen,
For what is Christmas-tide with men
Is with the flowers the time of May.
Back to the meadows of the West,
Back to their natal fields they come;
And as they reach their wished-for home,
The Mother folds them to her breast.
And as she breathes, with balmy sighs,
A fervent blessing over them,
The tearful, glistening dews begem
The parents' and the children's eyes.
She spreads a carpet for their feet,
And mossy pillows for their heads,
And curtains round their fairy beds
With blossom-broidered branches sweet.
She feeds them with ambrosial food,
And fills their cups with nectared wine;
And all her choristers combine
To sing their welcome from the wood:
And all that love can do is done,
As shown to them in countless ways:
She kindles to the brighter blaze
The fireside of the world--the sun.
And with her own soft, trembling hands,
In many a calm and cool retreat,
She laves the dust that soils their feet
In coming from the distant lands.
Or, leading down some sinuous path,
Where the shy stream's encircling heights
Shut out all prying eyes, invites
Her lily daughters to the bath.
There, with a mother's harmless pride,
Admires them sport the waves among:
Now lay their ivory limbs along
The buoyant bosom of the tide.
Now lift their marble shoulders o'er
The rippling glass, or sink with fear,
As if the wind approaching near
Were some wild wooer from the shore.
Or else the parent turns to these,
The younglings born beneath her eye,
And hangs the baby-buds close by,
In wind-rocked cradles from the trees.
And as the branches fall and rise,
Each leafy-folded swathe expands:
And now are spread their tiny hands,
And now are seen their starry eyes.
But soon the feast concludes the day,
And yonder in the sun-warmed dell,
The happy circle meet to tell
Their labours since the bygone May.
A bright-faced youth is first to raise
His cheerful voice above the rest,
Who bears upon his hardy breast
A golden star with silver rays:
Worthily won, for he had been
A traveller in many a land,
And with his slender staff in hand
Had wandered over many a green:
Had seen the Shepherd Sun unpen
Heaven's fleecy flocks, and let them stray
Over the high-pealed Himalay,
Till night shut up the fold again:
Had sat upon a mossy ledge,
O'er Baiae in the morning's beams,
Or where the sulphurous crater steams
Had hung suspended from the edge:
Or following its devious course
Up many a weary winding mile,
Had tracked the long, mysterious Nile
Even to its now no-fabled source:
Resting, perchance, as on he strode,
To see the herded camels pass
Upon the strips of wayside grass
That line with green the dust-white road.
Had often closed his weary lids
In oases that deck the waste,
Or in the mighty shadows traced
By the eternal pyramids.
Had slept within an Arab's tent,
Pitched for the night beneath a palm,
Or when was heard the vesper psalm,
With the pale nun in worship bent:
Or on the moonlit fields of France,
When happy village maidens trod
Lightly the fresh and verdurous sod,
There was he seen amid the dance:
Yielding with sympathizing stem
To the quick feet that round him flew,
Sprang from the ground as they would do,
Or sank unto the earth with them:
Or, childlike, played with girl and boy
By many a river's bank, and gave
His floating body to the wave,
Full many a time to give them joy.
These and a thousand other tales
The traveller told, and welcome found;
These were the simple tales went round
The happy circles in the vales.
Keeping reserved with conscious pride
His noblest act, his crowning feat,
How he had led even Humboldt's feet
Up Chimborazo's mighty side.
Guiding him through the trackless snow,
By sheltered clefts of living soil,
Sweet'ning the fearless traveller's toil,
With memories of the world below.
Such was the hardy Daisy's tale,
And then the maidens of the group--
Lilies, whose languid heads down droop
Over their pearl-white shoulders pale--
Told, when the genial glow of June
Had passed, they sought still warmer climes
And took beneath the verdurous limes
Their sweet siesta through the noon:
And seeking still, with fond pursuit,
The phantom Health, which lures and wiles
Its followers to the shores and isles
Of amber waves, and golden fruit.
There they had seen the orange grove
Enwreath its gold with buds of white,
As if themselves had taken flight,
And settled on the boughs above.
There kiss'd by every rosy mouth
And press'd to every gentle breast,
These pallid daughters of the West
Reigned in the sunshine of the South.
And thoughtful of the things divine,
Were oft by many an altar found,
Standing like white-robed angels round
The precincts of some sacred shrine.
And Violets, with dark blue eyes,
Told how they spent the winter time,
In Andalusia's Eden clime,
Or 'neath Italia's kindred skies.
Chiefly when evening's golden gloom
Veil'd Rome's serenest ether soft,
Bending in thoughtful musings oft,
Above the lost Alastor's tomb;
Or the twin-poet's; he who sings
"A thing of beauty never dies,"
Paying them back in fragrant sighs,
The love they bore all loveliest things.
The flower whose bronz`ed cheeks recalls
The incessant beat of wind and sun,
Spoke of the lore his search had won
Upon Pompeii's rescued walls.
How, in his antiquarian march,
He crossed the tomb-strewn plain of Rome,
Sat on some prostrate plinth, or clomb
The Coliseum's topmost arch.
And thence beheld in glad amaze
What Nero's guilty eyes, aloof,
Drank in from off his golden roof--
The sun-bright city all ablaze:
Ablaze by day with solar fires--
Ablaze by night with lunar beams,
With lambent lustre on its streams,
And golden glories round its spires!
Thence he beheld that wondrous dome,
That, rising o'er the radiant town,
Circles, with Art's eternal crown,
The still imperial brow of Rome.
Nor was the Marigold remiss,
But told how in her crown of gold
She sat, like Persia's king of old,
High o'er the shores of Salamis;
And saw, against the morning sky,
The white-sailed fleets their wings display;
And ere the tranquil close of day,
Fade, like the Persian's from her eye.
Fleets, with their white flags all unfurl'd,
Inscribed with "Commerce," and with "Peace,"
Bearing no threatened ill to Greece,
But mutual good to all the world.
And various other flowers were seen:
Cowslip and Oxlip, and the tall
Tulip, whose grateful hearts recall
The winter homes where they had been.
Some in the sunny vales, beneath
The sheltering hills; and some, whose eyes
Were gladdened by the southern skies,
High up amid the blooming heath.
Meek, modest flowers, by poets loved,
Sweet Pansies, with their dark eyes fringed
With silken lashes finely tinged,
That trembled if a leaf but moved:
And some in gardens where the grass
Mossed o'er the green quadrangle's breast,
There dwelt each flower, a welcome guest,
In crystal palaces of glass:
Shown as a beauteous wonder there,
By beauty's hands to beauty's eyes,
Breathing what mimic art supplies,
The genial glow of sun-warm air.
Nor were the absent ones forgot,
Those whom a thousand cares detained,
Those whom the links of duty chained
Awhile from this their natal spot.
One, who is labour's useful tracks
Is proudly eminent, who roams
The providence of humble homes--
The blue-eyed, fair-haired, friendly Flax:
Giving himself to cheer and light
The cottier's else o'ershadowing murk,
Filling his hand with cheerful work,
And all his being with delight:
And one, the loveliest and the last,
For whom they waited day by day,
All through the merry month of May,
Till one-and-thirty days had passed.
And when, at length, the longed-for noon
Of night arched o'er th' expectant green
The Rose, their sister and their queen--
Came on the joyous wings of June:
And when was heard the gladsome sound,
And when was breath'd her beauteous name,
Unnumbered buds, like lamps of flame,
Gleamed from the hedges all around:
Where she had been, the distant clime,
The orient realm their sceptre sways,
The poet's pen may paint and praise
Hereafter in his simple rhyme.