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THE CHRISTMAS GUEST

THE CHRISTMAS GUEST

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It happened one day at the year’s white end,

Two neighbours called on an old-time friend,

And found his shop, so meager and mean,

Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.

And Conrad was sitting with face ashine,

When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine

And said, “Old friends, at dawn today,

When the cock was crowing the night away,

The Lord appeared in a dream to me

And said, ‘I am coming your guest to be’.

So I’ve been busy with feet astir,

Strewing my shop with branches of fir,

The table is spread and the kettle is shined,

And over the rafters the holly is twined.

And now I will wait for my Lord to appear,

And listen closely so I will hear His step as He nears,

my humble place,

And I open the door and look in His face…”

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,

For this was the happiest day he had known.

And Conrad has spent a sad Christmas Day

 But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest

This Christmas would be the dearest and best,

And he listened with only joy in his heart.

And with every sound he would rise with a start

And look for the Lord to be standing there

In answer to his earnest prayer.

So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,

But all that he saw on the snow-covered ground

Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn

And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.

So Conrad was touched and went to the door

And he said, “Your feet must be frozen and sore,

And I have some shoes in my shop for you

And a coat that will keep you warmer, too.”

So with grateful heart the man went away,

But as Conrad noticed the time of day

He wondered what made the dear Lord so late

And how much longer he’d have to wait.

When he heard a knock and ran to the door,

But it was only a stranger once more,

A bent, old crone with a shawl of black,

A bundle of faggots piled on her back.

She asked for only a place to rest,

But that was reserved for Conrad’s Great Guest.

But her voice seemed to plead, “Don’t send me away

Let me rest awhile on Christmas day.”

So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup

And told her to sit at the table and sup.

But after she left he was filled with dismay

For he saw that the hours were passing away.

And the Lord had not come as He said He would,

And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.

When out of the stillness he heard a cry,

“Please help me and tell me where am I.”

So again he opened his friendly door

And stood disappointed as twice before,

It was only a child who had wandered away

And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.

Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad,

But he knew he should make this little child glad,

So he called her in and wiped her tears

And quieted her childish fears.

Then he led her back to her home once more

But as he entered his own darkened door,

He knew that the Lord was not coming today

For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray

And he said, “Dear Lord, why did you delay,

What kept You from coming to call on me,

For I wanted so much Your face to see. . .”

When soft in the silence a voice he heard,

“Lift up your head for I kept My word–

Three times My shadow crossed your floor–

Three times I came to your lonely door–

For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet,

I was the woman you gave to eat,

And I was the child on the homeless street.”

Helen Steiner Rice

 www.scottgadwa.libsyn.com

www.artvalue.com

Paul Revere’s Ride

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”
Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

http://www.poetry.eserver.org/
http://www.crystalinks.com/

Helen Steiner Rice

Life is a mixture of sunshine and rain,
Laughter and pleasure, tear-drops and pain;
All days can’t be bright, but it’s certainly true,
There was never a cloud the sun didn’t shine through.
So just keep on smiling whatever betide you,
Secure in the knowledge God is always beside you.
And you’ll find when you smile your day will be brighter
and all your burdens will seem so much lighter.
For each time you smile you will find it is true
SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE will smile back at YOU!
And nothing on earth Can make life more worthwhile
than the sunshine and warmth of a BEAUTIFUL SMILE
Helen Steiner Rice
http://www.homeandholidays.com/