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ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
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,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein 15 Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the heav'n by the sun's team untrod, Hath took no print of the approaching light, 20 And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wisards haste with odours sweet:
And join thy voice unto the Angel quire, From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.
19 sun's team] Henry IV. P. I. act iii. sc. 4. 'heavenlyharness'd team.' Todd.
28 star-led] The starre-led sages that would Christ behold.' Bancroft's Sec. B. of Epigrams, Ep. 228. Todd. Storer's Life of Wolsey, P. 21.
'When wise magicians wandered far awide
28 wisards] Spenser's F. Q. iv. xii. 2. antique wisards.' i. iv. 12. and strong advizement of six wizards old.' Warton. The Syracusan wizard did invent.' Storer's Life of Wolsey, p. 12. And Fitz-Geffrey's Holy Raptures, p.37.17
It was the winter wild,
While the heav'n-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in awe to him
Had dofft 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 woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw,
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 olives green, came softly
Down through the turning sphere
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 50
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
Nor 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 sov'reign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean,
64 whist] Nash's Dido, 1594. The ayre is cleere, and southerne windes are whist.' Todd. Golding's Ovid, p. 63. 'The waters whist.' Winds whist.' Aylet's Divine Poems, p. 65. If the winde be whist.' Marlowe's Hero and Leander, p. 13. far from the toure, when all is whist and still.' And see S. Hardinge's Com. Verses to W. Browne, from MS. in Beloe's Anecd. vi. 68.
'The winds that erst were whist
Each tree, your songes beinge mist,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed
The stars with deep amaze
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence; 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,
Each sproutinge pauncie in the meade
The weepinge brooke in grovelling tones glide umblinge doun, Dimples its own sleeke cheeks, and thanks you with a frowne.' And Quarles's Divine Poems, p. 23. The winds were whist.'
77 This stanza copied from Spenser's April.
I sawe Phoebus thrust out his golden hede
But when he saw how broade her beames did sprede,
It did him amaze.
Hee blush't to see another sunne belowe,
Ne durst againe his fierie face outshowe.' &c. Warton.