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MANZONI'S ODE ON THE NATIVITY.
As plunging down a mountain steep,
Left to its own wild will,-
Lies helpless there, and still ;
Upon that mountain's crest-
Back to its ancient rest.
And reached the fated woe;
His broken pride lay low.
Or for redemption plead
The Holy One indeed ?
Before His infant eye
And lifts it to the sky.
And in its downward flow,
Sweet blossoms bud and blow.
O Son Divine, Eternal Guest,
What world, however old,
In all the circling heaven's embrace,
To Thine, in challenge bold?
THOU ART! no star with Thee can share
For Thou hast made them all;
All sullied with its fall.
O pity, wondrous as Thy love!
What merit in our race
And wrested from disgrace?
Went up a maiden mild ;
Great with the Promised Child.
There, when the natal hour was come,
Her first-born Son she laid ;
Adored Him-blessed maid !
Before His Godhood worshipped she,
Her mother breast she gave;
For Christ has come to save.'
But not before the guarded gate
On worldly pride or wrong;
In sudden light and song.
And winged with love and flame,
In troops about His cradle press,
The glory of His name.
Then, following still their own sweet hymn,
The distant clouds between;
Till neither heard nor seen.
So vanish they; and doubtless then,
To that poor stable sped;
Upon His manger-bed.
But sleep, O holy Infant, sleep!
Would touch that tender form.
The coursers of the storm ?
Sleep on, O Heavenly Babe! as yet
And know not of Thy birth.
A CHRISTMAS BALLAD.
O’ER the golden summer palace* comes the winter stern and wild, Where they spread the silken awnings, rest the ice-drops undefiled.
Through the rifted clouds the moonlight gleams on lorn deserted floors, And the wintry wind moans sadly through the silver-columned doors.
* Herod's summer palace of Herodion stood on Bethlehem.
an eminence overlooking
In the throne-room builds the spider, birds of night come flitting by,
Mingles nought with gusty snow-storm and the sough of wintry wind, Save the tramp of those lone warders whom the King has left behind.
Slow the marble pavement pace they-now and then they gaze adown, Where the household lights come glinting from the peaceful country town.
One by one the lonely townsmen seek repose and peaceful dreams,
Yet what recked King Herod's warders, in their armour bright arrayed, How beside her new-born infant sank to rest a peasant maid ?
All they thought, these courtier soldiers, was when some few months
were o'er, How that pomp and joy voluptuous through these halls would ring once
Kingly pomp and mirth of courtiers-yet oh, Heaven ! and what are they To the sun-bright gleam that shimmers through the clouds of midnight
Is it moonlight? Is it morning? Is it some swift meteor's glow?
Yet as paled the heavenly vision ’neath the garish light of day,
Simple swains had heard the anthem, 'Peace on earth, and mercy mild,' Shepherds meek obeyed the summons, sought and found the Heaven-born
Herod's soldiers had not heard it. Filled with dreams of worldly mirth, What to them were all the glories of the night of Jesus' birth?
Unsubstantial dreams they thought them—was it only thus to them?