22 December 2008

Christmas Eve 1913

Robert Bridges

A frosty Christmas Eve
     when the stars were shining
Fared I forth alone
     where westward falls the hill,
And from many a village
     in the watered valley
Distant music reach'd me,
     peals of bells aringing:
The constellated sounds
     ran sprinkling on earth's floor
As the dark vault above
     with stars was spangled o'er.

Then sped my thought to keep
     that first Christmas of all
When the shepherds watching
     by their folds ere the dawn
Heard music in the fields
     and marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels
     or the bright stars singing.

Now blessed be the tow'rs
     that crown England so fair
That stand up strong in prayer
     unto God for our souls:
Blessed be their founders
     (said I ) an' our country folk
Who are ringing for Christ
     in the belfries to-night
With arms lifted to clutch
     the rattling ropes that race
Into the dark above
     and the mad romping din.

But to me heard afar
     it was starry music
Angels' song, comforting
     as the comfort of Christ
When he spake tenderly
     to his sorrowful flock:
The old words came to me
     by the riches of time
Mellow'd and transfigured
     as I stood on the hill
Heark'ning in the aspect
     of th' eternal silence.
(If this sounds slightly familiar, and you own the "John Denver and the Muppets" album, this poem was adapted into a beautiful song used on the album.)

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