I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight, snapped their saucy little fingers at the Chill December night; And in dressing gown And Slippers I had tilted back “My throne .” — The old split-bottomed Rocker, And was musing all alone .
I can hear the hungry Winter prowling Round the outer door, And the tread of muffled footsteps on the white piazza floor; But the sounds Came to me only as the murmur of a stream That mingled with the current of a lazy flowing dream.
- Like a fragrant incense rising, Curled the smoke of my cigar, With the lamp light gleaning through it, Like a mist-enfolded star; —
- And as I gazed, The vapor like a curtain rolled away, With a sound of bells That tinkled, And the clatter of a sleigh.
And in a vision Painted like a picture in the air, I saw the elfish figure of a a man with frosty hair–A quaint old man That Chuckled With a laugh As he appeared, And with ruddy Cheeks Like embers In the Ashes of his beard.
- He poised himself Grotesquely In an attitude of mirth, On a damask-covered hassock That was sitting on the hearth;
- And at a magic signal Of his stubby little thumb, I saw the fireplace Changing to a bright Proscenium .
And looking there, I marveled as I saw a mimic stage Alive with little actors of a very tender age; And some So very tiny That they tottered As they walked, and Lisped And Purled and Gurgled Like the brooklets When they talked.
- And their faces were like Lilies, and their eyes like purist dew, And their tresses like the shadows that the shine Is woven through;
- And they each had little burdens, And a little tale to tell, Of fairy lore, And Giants, And delights delectable.
And they mixed and intermingled, Leaving melody with joy, till the magic circle clustered Round a blooming baby boy, And they threw aside their treasures In an ecstasy of Glee, and bent with dazzled faces and With parted lips to see.
- Twas a wondrous little fellow With a dainty double chin, And chubby cheeks And dimples For the smiles to blossom in .
- And he looked as ripe and Rosy, On his bed of straw and reeds, As a mellow little pippin That had tumbled in the weeds.
And I saw the happy mother, And a group Surrounding her, That knelt with costly presents Of frankincense And myrrh; And I thrilled With awe And wonder As a Murmur on the air came Drifting O’er The hearing In a melody of prayer : —
- By the splendor in the heavens and the hush Upon the sea, In the Majesty of silence reigning Over Galilee.–
- We feel thy kingly presence, And we humbly bow the knee And lift our hearts And voices In gratefulness To Thee.
Thy messenger Has spoken, And our doubts have fled and gone As the dark and spectral shadows Of the night before the dawn ; And In the kindly Shelter of the light Around us drawn; We would Nestle down Forever In the breast We lean upon.
- You have given us A Shepherd You have given us a guide, and the light of heaven Grew dimmer When you sent Him from your side, —
- But He comes To lead thy children Where the gates will open wide, to welcome his returning When his works were glorified .
By the splendor in the heavens, and the husk upon the sea, and the majesty of silence reigning over Galilee, –We feel thy kingly presence, and we humbly bow the knee and lift our hearts and voices in gratefulness to Thee.
- Then the vision, slowly failing, with the words of the refrain, fell swooning in the moonlight through the frosty window pane; and I heard the clock proclaiming, like an eager sentinel who brings the world good tidings, — “it is Christmas, all is well:”
James Whitcomb Riley