Page images
PDF
EPUB

Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,

Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,

Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell, And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast, And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,

With the people they met at some wayside well.

“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar,

“Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; For we in the East have seen his star, And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,

To find and worship the King of the Jews.”

And the people answered, “You ask in vain;

We know of no king but Herod the Great !” They thought the Wise Men were men insane, As they spurred their horses across the plain,

Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.

And when they came to Jerusalem,

Herod the Great, who had heard this thing, Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them; And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem,

And bring me tidings of this new king.”

So they rode away; and the star stood still,

The only one in the gray of morn; Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will,

Right over Bethlehem on the hill,

The city of David where Christ was born.

And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the

guard, Through the silent street, till their horses turned And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard ; But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,

And only a light in the stable burned.

And cradled there in the scented hay,

In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day

Of a kingdom not human but divine.

His mother Mary of Nazareth

Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death

Were mingled together in her breast.

They laid their offerings at his feet:

The gold was a tribute to the King, The frankincense, with

odor sweet, Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,

The myrrh for the body's burying.

And the mother wondered and bowed her head,

And sat as still as a statue of stone; Her heart was troubled yet comforted,

Remembering what the Angel had said

Of an endless reign and of David's throne.

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,

With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

THE SHEPHERDS.

TE

THE night was moonless; Judah's shepherds kept
Their starlight watch; their flocks around them

slept.
To heaven's blue fields their wakeful eyes were turned,
And to the fires that there eternal burned.
Those azure regions had been peopled long
With Fancy's children, by the sons of song:
And there the simple shepherd, conning o'er
His humble pittance of Chaldean lore,
Saw, in the stillness of a starry night,
The swan and eagle wing their silent flight;
And from their spangled pinions, as they flew,
On Israel's vales of verdure shower the dew;
Saw there the brilliant gems, that nightly flare,
In the thin mist of. Berenice's hair ;
And there Boites roll his lucid wain,
On sparkling wheels, along the ethereal plain;
And there the Pleiades, in tuneful gyre,

[ocr errors]

Pursue forever the star-studded lyre;
And there, with bickering lash, heaven's charioteer
Urge round the Cynosure his bright career.

While thus the shepherds watched the host of night,
O'er heaven's blue concave flashed a sudden light.
The unrolling glory spread its folds divine
O’er the green hills and vales of Palestine;
And lo! descending angels, hovering there,
Stretched their loose wings, and in the purple air
Hung o'er the sleepless guardians of the fold,
When that high anthem, clear and strong and bold,
On wavy paths of trembling ether ran :

Glory to God, benevolence to man,
Peace to the world ”; and in full concert came,
From silver tubes and harps of golden frame,
The loud and sweet response, whose choral strains
Lingered and languished on Judæa's plains.
Yon living lamps, charmed from their chambers blue
By airs so heavenly, from the skies withdrew:
All ? — all but one, that hung and burned alone,
And with mild lustre over Bethlehem shone.
Chaldea's sages saw that orb afar
Glow unextinguished; 't was Salvation's Star.

John Pierpont.

NAOMI.

TWO
IWO sad-faced women, haggard, worn, and wan,
Passed wearily through Bethlehem's sun-scorched

street;
The city, moved to pity, round them ran,

And some witlı wondering cry the strangers greet, “What! Is this Naomi ?” She quickly broke Upon them trembling, as they thus began, “Call me not Naomi,” she weeping spoke,

For Naomi is numbered with the dead; My name is Mara, for, o friends, with me The Lord hath dealt exceeding bitterly!

"The hand God has touched me, and I mourn;
Has robbed me both of husband and of son;
Woe worth the bitter day that I was born !
My prop, my stay, my life of life, is gone;
I went out full, empty come back to you,
A widow, childless, desolate, and forlorn;
The graves in Moab hold my dead heart too,
I left it with them where they sleep in peace.
So from my years has gone the sun, the light;
I grope as one through some dark dreary night.”

Charles D. Bell.

THEY GAVE TO THEE.

HEY gave to Thee

Myrrh, frankincense, and gold;
But, Lord, with what shall we
Present ourselves before thy majesty,

Whom thou redeemedst when we were sold ? We've nothing but ourselves, and scarce that neither;

Vile dirt and clay ;
Yet it is soft, and may

Impression take.

« PreviousContinue »