Given Back On Christmas Morn by Thomas Hood


Round about the casement
Wail the winds of winter;
Shaken from the frozen eaves
Many an icy splinter.
On the hillside, in the hollow,
Weaving wreaths of snow:
Now in gusts of solemn music
Lost in murmurs low;
Howling now across the wold
In its shroudlike vastness,
Like the wolves about a fold
In some Alpine fastness,
Hungered by the cold.


Babe of mine–babe of mine,
Must I lose you?
Dare I weep if the Divine
Will should choose you?–
Ah, to mourn, as I have smiled,
At the thought of you, my child!
Ah, my child–my child!

Babe of mine–you entwine
With existence!
If one strips the clinging vine
There’s resistance–
Shall not I then—-? I talk wild,
Seeing Death so near my child:–
Ah, my child–my child!

Babe of mine–heart’s best wine–
Life’s pure essence!
Gloomy shadows, that define
Death’s near presence.
Dim those dear eyes, undefiled
As God’s violets–ah, my child:
Ah, my child–my child!

The imperial purple of the night
Is spread, wine-dark, above,
But glistens with no gems of light,
To hint of Heaven’s love.
A sombre pall hangs overhead,
Fringed with lurid clouds of lead,–
O’er the sleeping earth below
One long, wide waste of silent snow,
And the wind moans drearily
As it wanders by,
And the night wanes wearily
In the starlight sky.


Must the dear eyes close?
Must the lips be still?–
How I love their speech that flows
Like a wanton rill!
Must those cheeks, soft-tinged with rose,
Pallid grow and chill?
Give her back to me, angel in disguise!
So your mystery I shall learn–yet with tearless eyes.
By the pangs, the prayers,
By the mother’s glee,
By her hopes, her fears, her cares,
Give my child to me–
Give it back to me!

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Quenched the eye’s soft light,
Hushed the cowslip breath!
Going, darling, in the night?
Spare–oh, spare her, Death!
Dying–is it so?
Oh, it must not be!
Can my one poor treasure go?
Give her back to me,
Give her back to me:
Or take me too,–left alone,
Now my little one is gone;
Ah, my child, my child!

Among the clouds that sail o’erhead
A yellow radiance is shed;
And o’er the hill-tops wrapt in snow,
Is born a tinge of rosy glow.
Within the air a stir–like wings
Of angels in their minist’rings;
A tremulous motion, and a thrill,
As with faint light the heavens fill.
Night’s sombre clouds are slow withdrawn,
And nature cries, Awake, ’tis dawn.

About the lonely casement
Blows fresh the breath of day;–
The mother, in amazement,
Sees death-glooms fade away!

The blue eyes open once again,
Once more the lips have smiled–
Her tears fell like the spring-time rain:
God gives her back her child!

Hush, there are footsteps on the snow,
That pause the lattice-pane below;
While voices chant the carol-rhymes,
The Christmas song of olden times:

Awake, good Christians! Long ago
The shepherds waked at night,
And saw the heavens with glory glow,
And angels in the light.
Hosanna! sing, Hosanna! sing,
Hosanna in the height!

New life they told to all on earth,
New life and blessing bright,
Forewarning of the Saviour’s birth,
In Bethlehem this night.
Hosanna! sing, Hosanna! sing,
Hosanna in the height!

New life to all,–new life to all,–
The tidings good recite!
New life to all, which did befall
At Bethlehem this night.
Hosanna! sing, Hosanna! sing,
Hosanna in the height!

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The voices hushed–the footsteps died
In distance far aloof,
It seemed a blessing did abide
Upon that silent roof,
As far away their cheery singing
Upon the frosty air came ringing.

Among the clouds that sail o’erhead
A yellow glory is outspread;
And on the hill-tops crowned with snows,
A rosy blushing radiance grows,
As wider still the warm light glows:
And flooding daylight falls again
From cloud to hill–from hill to plain.

A golden sea of swimming light
Poured o’er the sombre shores of night,
While the glad mother, to her breast
Her child yet close and closer pressed,
Her rescued treasure–newly born–
Her babe–given back on Christmas morn.

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