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THIS is the month, and this the happy morn,
That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod, Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
Ir was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature, in awe to him,
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize: It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She wooes the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow; And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw ; Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound,
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung; The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng; And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed
The stars with deep amaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them hence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And, though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferiour flame
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below; Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.