Joseph And Mary

A poem by James Elroy Flecker

JOSEPH

Mary, art thou the little maid
Who plucked me flowers in Spring?
I know thee not: I feel afraid:
Thou'rt strange this evening.

A sweet and rustic girl I won
What time the woods were green;
No woman with deep eyes that shone,
And the pale brows of a Queen.

MARY (inattentive to his words.)

A stranger came with feet of flame
And told me this strange thing, -
For all I was a village maid
My son should be a King.

JOSEPH

A King, dear wife. Who ever knew
Of Kings in stables born!

MARY

Do you hear, in the dark and starlit blue
The clarion and the horn?

JOSEPH

Mary, alas, lest grief and joy
Have sent thy wits astray;
But let me look on this my boy,
And take the wraps away.

MARY

Behold the lad.

JOSEPH

I dare not gaze:
Light streams from every limb.

MARY

The winter sun has stored his rays,
And passed the fire to him.

Look Eastward, look! I hear a sound.
O Joseph, what do you see?

JOSEPH

The snow lies quiet on the ground
And glistens on the tree;

The sky is bright with a star's great light,
And clearly I behold
Three Kings descending yonder hill,
Whose crowns are crowns of gold.

O Mary, what do you hear and see
With your brow toward the West?

MARY

The snow lies glistening on the tree
And silent on Earth's breast;

And strong and tall, with lifted eyes
Seven shepherds walk this way,
And angels breaking from the skies
Dance, and sing hymns, and pray.

JOSEPH


I wonder much at these bright Kings;
The shepherds I despise.

MARY

You know not what a shepherd sings,
Nor see his shining eyes.

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