WITH garlands to grace it, with laughter to greet it,
Christmas is here, holly-red and snow-white,
Hung round with quaint legends, and old-as-life stories
Of mystical beauty and lifelong delight;
With dreams of the Christ-child, with Santa Claus fables,
Without doubts to trouble or questions to break
The absolute faith in the triumph of goodness,
In God and in nature on guard for its sake;
Without fear of death, with no memories of grief,
Believing life clear as our cloudless belief;
What wonder if rose-coloured Christmas appear
As the happiest day of our happy child year?
With the swiftness of thought, with the spring's incompleteness,
Childhood has passed, and its place is filled up;
Hope suns our youth into midsummer sweetness,
And the roses of love wreathe our life's golden cup.
We shall do--we shall dare--and our faith has no limit,
Wrong must go down 'neath the sword of the right
And life is so joyous, and may be so glorious,
And day looks so long, and so distant the night.
We love--there are chances--and if we should meet
The woman who holds all our heart at her feet
At Christmas--would that not make Christmas more dear
Than all other days of our love-lightened year?
With the sadness of tears, with the speed of the swallow,
Youth has gone by, and its hope and its faith;
Love has grown into grief, and remembrance is anguish,
And down the dim years sound the footsteps of death.
There sit at our feast (for we still hold our revels)
The phantom of hope and the spectre of truth.
This life we believed in--how has it rewarded
The passionate faith of our long-ago youth?
Our hearth is deserted--our Christmas Day seems
But the ghost of a day from a lifetime of dreams.
Oh, lost voices that call us--we hear you--we hear!
Oh, most desolate day of our desolate year!