“Then I ponder, and I wonder
Was some heart-chord snapped asunder
When the threads were soft and silken?
Did some fatal boyish blunder
Plant a canker in my bosom
That hath ever burned and rankled?
“O this thirsting, thirsting hanker!
O this burning, burning canker’
Driving Peace and Hope to shipwreck—
Without rudder, without anchor,
On the reef-rocks of Damnation!”
“Jesus—Son of Virgin Mary;
Lift the burden from the weary:
Pity, Jesus, and anoint him
With the holy balm of Gilead.”
“Yea, Christ Jesus, pour thy blessings
On these terrible heart-pressings:
O I bless thee, unseen Angel;
Lead me—teach me, holy Spirit.”
“There is balm in Gilead!
There is balm in Gilead!
Peace awaits thee with caressings—
Sitting at the feet of Jesus—
At the right-hand of Jehovah—
At the blessed feet of Jesus;—Alleluia!”
From church and chapel and dome and tower,
Near—far and everywhere,
The merry bells chime loud and clear
Upon the frosty air.
All down the marble avenues
The lamp-lit casements glow,
And from an hundred palaces
Glad carols float and flow.
A thousand lamps from street to street
Blaze on the dusky air,
And light the way for happy feet
To carol, praise and prayer.
’Tis Christmas eve. In church and hall
The laden fir-trees bend;
Glad children throng the festival
And grandsires too attend.
Fur-wrapped and gemmed with pearls and gold,
Proud ladies rich and fair
As Egypt’s splendid queen of old
In all her pomp are there.
And many a costly, golden gift
Hangs on each Christmas-tree,
While round and round the carols drift
In waves of melody.
In a dim and dingy attic,
Away from the pomp and glare,
A widow sits by a flickering lamp,
Bowed down by toil and care.
On her toil-worn hand her weary head,
At her feet a shoe half-bound,
On the bare, brown table a loaf of bread,
And hunger and want around.
By her side at the broken window,
With her rosy feet all bare,
Her little one carols a Christmas tune
To the chimes on the frosty air.
And the mother dreams of the by-gone years
And their merry Christmas-bells,
Till her cheeks are wet with womanly tears,
And a sob in her bosom swells.
[Illustration: AND THE MOTHER DREAMS OF THE BY GONE YEARS, AND THEIR MERRY CHRISTMAS BELLS]
The child looked up; her innocent ears
Had caught the smothered cry;
She saw the pale face wet with tears
She fain would pacify.