The star was so beautiful, large, and clear, That all the other stars of the sky Became a white mist in the atmosphere, And by this they knew that the coming was near Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.
Three caskets they bore on their saddle bows, Three caskets of gold with golden keys; Their robes were of crimson silk with rows Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows, Their turbans like blossoming almond trees.
And so the Three Kings rode into the West, Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell, And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest, With the people they met at some wayside well.
Of the child that is born, said Baltasar, Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; For we in the East have seen his star, And have ridden fast, and have ridden far, To find and worship the King of the Jews.
And the people answered, You ask in vain; We know of no king but Herod the Great! They thought the Wise Men were men insane, As they spurred their horses across the plain, Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.
And when they came to Jerusalem, Herod the Great, who had heard this thing, Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them; And said, Go down unto Bethlehem, And bring me tidings of this new king.
So they rode away; and the star stood still, The only one in the gray of morn Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will, Right over Bethlehem on the hill, The city of David where Christ was born.
And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard, Through the silent street, till their horses turned And neighed as they entered the great inn yard; But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred, And only a light in the stable burned.
And cradled there in the scented hay, In the air made sweet by the breath of kine, The little child in the manger lay, The child, that would be king one day Of a kingdom not human but divine.
His mother Mary of Nazareth Sat watching beside his place of rest, Watching the even flow of his breath, For the joy of life and the terror of death Were mingled together in her breast.
They laid their offerings at his feet: The gold was their tribute to a King, The frankincense, with its odor sweet, Was for the Priest, the Paraclete, The myrrh for the bodys burying.
And the mother wondered and bowed her head, And sat as still as a statue of stone; Her heart was troubled yet comforted, Remembering what the Angel had said Of an endless reign and of Davids throne.
Then the Kings rode out of the city gate, With a clatter of hoofs in proud array; But they went not back to Herod the Great, For they knew his malice and feared his hate, And returned to their homes by another way.
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; So stout and hardy were the band That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
And who but listened? till was paid Respect to every inmates claim, The greeting given, the music played In honour of each household name, Duly pronounced with lusty call, And Merry Christmas wished to all.
Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more, Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease, Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.
They heard the surf a roaring before the break of day; But twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay. We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout, And we gave her the maintopsl, and stood by to go about.
All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North; All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth; All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread, For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.
We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared; But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard: Sos we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high, And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.
The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam; The good red fires were burning bright in every long shore home; The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out; And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.
The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer; For its just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year) This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn, And the house above the coastguards was the house where I was born.
O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there, My mothers silver spectacles, my fathers silver hair; And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves, Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.
And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me, Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea; And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way, To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.
They lit the high sea light, and the dark began to fall. All hands to loose top gallant sails, I heard the captain call. By the Lord, shell never stand it, our first mate, Jackson, cried. . . . Its the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson, he replied.
She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good, And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood. As the winters day was ending, in the entry of the night, We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.
And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me, As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea; But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold, Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.