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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about The Feast of the Virgins and Other Poems.

“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!”

Invisible Angel:

“Jesus—­Son of Virgin Mary;
Lift the burden from the weary: 
Pity, Jesus, and anoint him
With the holy balm of Gilead.”

Poet:

“Yea, Christ Jesus, pour thy blessings
On these terrible heart-pressings: 
O I bless thee, unseen Angel;
Lead me—­teach me, holy Spirit.”

Angel:

  “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!”

CHRISTMAS EVE

I

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.

II

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.

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