December: Christmass -


Christmass is come & every hearth
Makes room to give him welcome now
Een want will dry its tears in mirth
& crown him wi a holly bough
Tho tramping neath a winter sky
Oer snow track paths & rhymey stiles
The hus wife sets her spinning bye
& bids him welcome wi her smiles

Each house is swept the day before
& windows stuck wi evergreens
The snow is beesomd from the door
& comfort crowns the cottage scenes
Gilt holly wi its thorny pricks
& yew & box wi berrys small
These deck the unusd candlesticks
& pictures hanging by the wall

Neighbours resume their anual cheer
Wishing wi smiles & spirits high
Glad christmass & a happy year
To every morning passer bye
Milk maids their christmass journeys go
Accompanyd wi favourd swain
& children pace the crumping snow
To taste their grannys cake again

Hung wi the ivys veining bough
The ash trees round the cottage farm
Are often stript of branches now
The cotters christmass hearth to warm
He swings & twists his hazel band
& lops them off wi sharpend hook
& oft brings ivy in his hand
To decorate the chimney nook

Old winter whipes his icles bye
& warms his fingers till he smiles
Were cottage hearths are blazing high
& labour resteth from his toils
Wi merry mirth beguiling care
Old customs keeping wi the day
Friends meet their christmass cheer to share
& pass it in a harmless way

Old customs O I love the sound
However simple they may be
What ere wi time has sanction found
Is welcome & is dear to me
Pride grows above simplicity
& spurns it from her haughty mind
& soon the poets song will be
The only refuge they can find

The shepherd now no more afraid
Since custom doth the chance bestow
Starts up to kiss the giggling maid
Beneath the branch of mizzletoe
That neath each cottage beam is seen
Wi pearl-like-berrys shining gay
The shadow still of what hath been
Which fashion yearly fades away

& singers too a merry throng
A[t] early morn wi simple skill
Yet imitate the angels song
& chant their christmass ditty still
& mid the storm that dies & swells
By fits — in humings softly steals
The music of the village bells
Ringing round their merry peals

& when its past a merry crew
Bedeckt in masks & ribbons gay
The " Morrice dance " their sports renew
& act their winter evening play
The clown-turnd-kings for penny praise
Storm wi the actors strut & swell
& harlequin a laugh to raise
Wears his hump back & tinkling bell

& oft for pence & spicy ale
Wi winter nosgays pind before
The wassail singer tells her tale
& drawls her christmass carrols oer
The prentic[e] boy wi ruddy face
& rhyme bepowdered dancing locks
From door to door wi happy pace
Runs round to claim his " christmass box "

The block behind the fire is put
To sanction customs old desires
& many a faggots bands are cut
For the old farmers christmass fires
Were loud tongd gladness joins the throng
& winter meets the warmth of may
Feeling by times the heat too strong
& rubs his shins & draws away

While snows the window panes bedim
The fire curls up a sunny charm
Were creaming oer the pitchers rim
The flowering ale is set to warm
Mirth full of joy as summer bees
Sits there its pleasures to impart
While children tween their parents knees
Sing scraps of carrols oer by heart

& some to view the winter weathers
Climb up the window seat wi glee
Likening the snow to falling feathers
In fancys infant extacy
Laughing wi superstitions love
Oer visions wild that youth supplyes
Of people pulling geese above
& keeping christmass in the skyes

As tho the homstead trees were drest
In lieu of snow wi dancing leaves
As tho the sun dryd martins nest
Instead of icles hung the eaves
The children hail the happy day
As if the snow was april grass
& pleasd as neath the warmth of may
Sport oer the water froze to glass

Tho[u] day of happy sound & mirth
That long wi childish memory stays
How blest around the cottage hearth
I met thee in my boyish days
Harping wi raptures dreaming joys
Oer presents that thy coming found
The welcome sight of little toys
The christmass gifts of commers round

The wooden horse wi arching head
Drawn upon wheels around the room
The gilded coach of ginger bread
& many colord sugar plumb
Gilt covered books for pictures sought
Or storys childhood loves to tell
Wi many a urgent promise bought
To get tomorrows lesson well

& many a thing a minutes sport
Left broken on the sanded floor
When we woud leave our play & court
Our parents promises for more
Tho manhood bids such raptures dye
& throws such toys away as vain
Yet memory loves to turn her eye
& talk such pleasures oer again

Around the glowing hearth at night
The harmless laugh & winter tale
Goes round — while parting friends delight
To toast each other oer their ale
The cotter oft wi quiet zeal
Will musing oer his bible lean
While in the dark the lovers steal
To kiss & toy behind the screen

The yule cake dotted thick wi plumbs
Is on each supper table found
& cats look up for falling crumbs
Which greedy children litter round
& hus wifes sage stuffd seasond chine
Long hung in chimney nook to drye
& boiling eldern berry wine
To drink the christmass eves " good bye "
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