Our American Holidays - Christmas/The Christmas Carol

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The minstrels played their Christmas tune
  To-night beneath my cottage eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
  The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen
That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze
  Had sunk to rest, with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze
  Nor check the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!

And who but listened—till was paid
  Respect to every inmate's claim:
The greeting given, the music played,
  In honor of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And "Merry Christmas" wished to all!

How touching, when, at midnight, sweep
  Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,
To hear, and sink again to sleep!
  Or, at an earlier call, to mark
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence;

The mutual nod, — the grave disguise
  Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;
And some unbidden tears that rise
  For names once heard, and heard no more;
Tears brightened by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid.

Hail ancient Manners! sure defence,
  Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love whose modest sense
  Thus into narrow room withdraws;
Hail, Usages of pristine mould,
And ye that guard them, Mountains old!