By Luis G. Dato
The incense hangs on gilded Christmas shrines,
Warm tapers bathe the walls in amber glow,
In mumbled prayer, bead-counted prayer low,
Devouts, deep-veiled, all drowse upon their lines,
Anon with peals from drums and tambourines,
The choir breaks forth, glad tidings bring, for
Lo! The Child of God on earth is born, and now
The bell-chimes leap, a star in Heaven shines.
Two thousand years ago tonight, three kings
Forth came from Asia to the godly Child,
With offerings of peace, love offerings,
From cities and Arabia’s deserts wild
Three kings to Heaven lifted up their hands,
And saw reborn the King of all the lands.
This Christmas eve beside the tinseled stall
Where first saw light a candle, bright and tall,
For one the noblest that our earth has trod.
Upon the branches of the Christmas tree
I tuck festoons of gifts that dry the tears
of boys and girls with sprite of revelry,
Ensconced but which at Christmas time appears.
My light now flickering beside that star
That shone one fateful night and now shines still
My gifts fail in magnificence by far
With bounties which in Nature our eyes fill,
How small and low our life, His how divine
Which at each Christmas warms the heart like the wine.
On Christmas as we reach the dying year
We look back at the world we left behind,
Whose memory has all but slipped from mind,
At the mirage so strange and frightful peer.
And we avert our eyes to see appear
The heaven which who lives aspires to find
Still far beyond the roseate hues outlined,
Its paeans in the bells of Christmas hear,
The ends of life how loose and how unkempt!
To woo delight from the dark fields of sorrow,
From which the Lord Himself was not exempt,
Perforce from ChristID3.s sprites the world must borrow
Hope’s fadeless star or vain the dear attempt,
The past is gall, but radiant shines the morrow.