Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Christmas Carol
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
(See full text.)

THE MINSTRELS played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,        5
That overpowered their natural green.
 
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;        10
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!
 
And who but listened?—till was paid
Respect to every inmate’s claim:
The greeting given, the music played,        15
In honor of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And “Merry Christmas” wished to all!
 
How touching, when, at midnight, sweep
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,        20
To hear, and sink again to sleep!
Or, at an earlier call, to mark,
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence;
 
The mutual nod,—the grave disguise        25
Of hearts with gladness brimming o’er;
And some unbidden tears that rise
For names once heard, and heard no more;
Tears brightened by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid.        30
 
Hail, ancient Manners! sure defence,
Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love whose modest sense
Thus into narrow room withdraws;
Hail, Usages of pristine mould,        35
And ye that guard them, Mountains old!
 
 
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