Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/39

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11
A CHRISTMAS HYMN

'T was in the calm and silent night!
    The senator of haughty Rome
Impatient urged his chariot's flight,
    From lordly revel rolling home.
Triumphal arches gleaming swell
    His breast with thoughts of boundless sway;
What reck'd the Roman what befell
    A paltry province far away,
        In the solemn midnight
            Centuries ago!

Within that province far away
    Went plodding home a weary boor:
A streak of light before him lay,
    Fall'n through a half-shut stable door
Across his path. He pass'd—for nought
    Told what was going on within;
How keen the stars! his only thought;
    The air how calm and cold and thin,
        In the solemn midnight
            Centuries ago!

O strange indifference!—low and high
    Drows'd over common joys and cares:
The earth was still—but knew not why;
    The world was listening—unawares.
How calm a moment may precede
    One that shall thrill the world for ever!
To that still moment none would heed,
    Man's doom was link'd, no more to sever,
        In the solemn midnight
            Centuries ago.