Landon in The Literary Gazette 1832/Christmas

For works with similar titles, see Christmas.

1

Literary Gazette, 27th January, 1832, Pages 27-28


ORIGINAL POETRY.

CHRISTMAS.

Irregular Lines.

Now out upon you, Christmas!
    Is this the merry time
When the red hearth blazed, the harper sung,
    And the bells rung their glorious chime?

You are called merry Christmas—
    Like many that I know,
You are living on a character
    Acquired long ago.

The dim lamps glimmer o'er the streets;
    Through the dun and murky air
You may not see the moon or stars,
    For the fog is heavy there;

As if all high and lovely things
    Were blotted from the sight,
And Earth had nothing but herself
    Left to her own drear light.

A gloomy crowd goes hurrying by;
    And in the lamplight's glare,
Many a heavy step is seen,
    And many a face of care.

I saw an aged woman turn
    To her wretched home again—
All day she had asked charity,
    And all day asked in vain.

The fog was on the cutting wind,
    The frost was on the flood;
And yet how many past that night
    With neither fire nor food!


There came on the air a smother’d groan,
    And a low and stifled cry,
And there struggled a child, a young fair child,
    In its mortal agony.

"Now for its price," the murderer said;
    "On earth we must live as we can;
And this is not a crime, but a sacrifice
    In the cause of science and man."

Is this the curse that is laid on the earth?
    And must it ever be so,
That there can be nothing of human good
    But must from some evil flow?

On, on, and the dreary city's smoke
    And the fog are left behind,
And the leafless boughs of the large old trees
    Are stirred by the moaning wind;

And all is calm, like the happy dream
    Which we have of an English home—
A lowly roof where cheerful toil
    And healthy slumbers come.

Is there a foreign foe in the land,
    That the midnight sky grows red—
That by homestead, and barn, and rick, and stack,
    Yon cruel blaze is fed?

There were months of labour, of rain, and sun,
    Ere the harvest followed the plough—
Ere the stack was reared, and the barn was filled,
    Which the fire is destroying now.


And the dark incendiary goes through the night
    With a fierce and wicked joy;
The wealth and the food which he may not share,
    He will at least destroy.

The wind, the wind, it comes from the sea,
    With a wailing sound it passed;
'Tis soft and mild for a winter's wind,
    And yet there is death on the blast.

From the south to the north hath the Cholera come,
    He came like a despot king;
He hath swept the earth with a conqueror's step,
    And the air with a spirit's wing.

We shut him out with a girdle of ships,
    And a guarded quarantine;
What ho ! now which of your watchers slept?
    The Cholera's past your line!

There's a curse on the blessed sun and air,
    What will ye do for breath?
For breath, which was once but a word for life,
    Is now but a word for death.

Wo for affection! when love must look
    On each face it loves with dread—
Kindred and friends—when a few brief hours
    And the dearest may be the dead!


The months pass on, and the circle spreads;
    And the time is drawing nigh,
When each street may have a darkened house,
    Or a coffin passing by.

Our lot is cast upon evil days,
    In the world's winter-time;
The earth is old, and worn with years
    Of want, of wo, and of crime.

Then out on the folly of ancient times—
    The folly which wished you mirth:
Look round on the anguish, look round on the vice,
    Then dare to be glad upon earth!
L. E. L.