Five Carols For Christmastide

by Louise Imogen Guiney

I

The Ox he openeth wide the Doore,
And from the Snowe he calls her inne,
And he hath seen her Smile therefor,
Our Ladye without Sinne.
Now soone from Sleep
A Starre shall leap,
And soone arrive both King and Hinde:
Amen, Amen:
But O, the Place co'd I but finde!

The Ox hath hush'd his voyce and bent
Trewe eyes of Pitty ore the Mow,
And on his lovelie Neck, forspent,
The Blessed layes her Browe.
Around her feet
Full Warme and Sweete
His bowerie breath doth meeklie dwell:
Amen, Amen:
But sore I am with Vaine Travel!

The Ox is host in Judah stall
And host of more than onelie one,
For close she gathereth withal
Our Lorde her littel Sonne.
Glad Hinde and King
Their Gyfte may bring,
But wo'd to-night my Teares were there,
Amen, Amen:
Between her Bosom and His hayre!

II

Vines branching stilly
Shade the open door,
In the house of Zion's Lily,
Cleanly and poor.
Oh, brighter than wild laurel
The Babe bounds in her hand,
The King, who for apparel
Hath but a swaddling-band,
And sees her heavenlier smiling than stars in His command!

Soon, mystic changes
Part Him from her breast,
Yet there awhile He ranges
Gardens of rest:
Yea, she the first to ponder
Our ransom and recall,
Awhile may rock Him under
Her young curls' fall,
Against that only sinless love-loyal heart of all.

What shall inure Him
Unto the deadly dream,
When the Tetrarch shall abjure Him,
The thief blaspheme,
And scribe and soldier jostle
About the shameful tree,
And even an Apostle
Demand to touch and see?-
But she hath kissed her Flower where the
Wounds are to be.

III

Three without slumber ride from afar,
Fain of the roads where palaces are;
All by a shed as they ride in a row,
"Here!" is the cry of their vanishing Star.

First doth a greybeard, glittering fine,
Look on Messiah in slant moonshine:
"This have I sought for Thee!" Though it be rare,
Loathe little fingers are letting it fall.

Last doth a stripling, bare in his pride,
Kneel by the Lover as if to abide:
"This have I wrought for Thee!" Answer him there
Laugh of a Child, and His arms opened wide.

IV

Was a Soule from farre away
Stood wistful in the Hay,
And of the Babe a-sleeping hadde a sight:
Neither reck'd hee any more
Men behind him and before,
Nor a thousand busie Winges, flitting light:
But in middle of the night
This few-worded wight
(Yule! Yule!)
Bespake Our Lady bright:

"Fill mee, ere my corage faints,
With the lore of all the Saints:
Harte to harte against my Brother let mee be.
By the Fountaines that are His
I wo'd slumber where Hee is:
Prithee, Mother, give the other Brest to mee!"
The Soule that none co'd see
She hath taken on her knee:
(Yule! Yule!)
Sing praises to Our Ladye.

V

The Ox and the Ass,
Tell aloud of them:
Sing their pleasure as it was
In Bethlehem.

Still, as blowing rose, sudden as a sword,
Maidenly the Maiden bare Jesu Christ the Lord;
Yet for very lowlihood, such as a Guest to greet,
Goeth in a little swoon while kissing of His feet.

Mary, drifted snow on the earthen floor,
Joseph, fallen wondrous weak now he would adore,-
(Oh, the surging might of love! Oh, the drowning bliss!)
Both are rapt to Heaven and lose their human Heaven that is.

From the Newly Born trails a lonely cry.
With a mind to heed, the Ox turns a glowing eye;
In the empty byre the Ass thinks her heart to blame:
Up for comforting of God the beasts of burden came,

Softly to inquire, thrusting as for cheer
There between the tender hands, furry faces dear.
Blessing on the nonest coats! tawny coat and grey
Friended Our Delight so well when warmth had strayed away.

Crooks are on the still; sceptres sail the wave;
All the hopes of all the years are thronging to the Cave.
Mother slept not long, nor long Father's sense was dim,
But another twain the while stood parent-wise to Him.

The Ox and the Ass,
Be you glad for them
Such a moment came to pass
In Bethlehem!


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