Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Theodore Watts-Dunton. 1836–1914
  
807. Wassail Chorus at the Mermaid Tavern
  
 CHRISTMAS knows a merry, merry place, 
  Where he goes with fondest face, 
  Brightest eye, brightest hair: 
Tell the Mermaid where is that one place, 
          Where?         5
 
Raleigh.'Tis by Devon's glorious halls, 
  Whence, dear Ben, I come again: 
Bright of golden roofs and walls— 
  El Dorado's rare domain— 
 
  Seem those halls when sunlight launches  10
  Shafts of gold thro' leafless branches, 
Where the winter's feathery mantle blanches 
       Field and farm and lane. 
 
CHORUS.Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c. 
 
Drayton.  'Tis where Avon's wood-sprites weave  15
    Through the boughs a lace of rime, 
  While the bells of Christmas Eve 
    Fling for Will the Stratford-chime 
  O'er the river-flags emboss'd 
  Rich with flowery runes of frost—  20
O'er the meads where snowy tufts are toss'd— 
        Strains of olden time. 
 
CHORUS.Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c. 
 
Shakespeare's Friend.  'Tis, methinks, on any ground 
    Where our Shakespeare's feet are set.  25
  There smiles Christmas, holly-crown'd 
    With his blithest coronet: 
  Friendship's face he loveth well: 
  'Tis a countenance whose spell 
Sheds a balm o'er every mead and dell  30
      Where we used to fret. 
 
CHORUS.Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c. 
 
Heywood.More than all the pictures, Ben, 
  Winter weaves by wood or stream, 
Christmas loves our London, when  35
  Rise thy clouds of wassail-steam— 
  Clouds like these, that, curling, take 
  Forms of faces gone, and wake 
Many a lay from lips we loved, and make 
      London like a dream.  40
 
CHORUS.Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c. 
 
Ben Jonson.  Love's old songs shall never die, 
    Yet the new shall suffer proof: 
  Love's old drink of Yule brew I 
    Wassail for new love's behoof.  45
  Drink the drink I brew, and sing 
  Till the berried branches swing, 
Till our song make all the Mermaid ring— 
        Yea, from rush to roof. 
 
FINALE.  Christmas loves this merry, merry place;  50
    Christmas saith with fondest face, 
      Brightest eye, brightest hair: 
'Ben, the drink tastes rare of sack and mace: 
            Rare!' 
 
 
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