A Hymn on the Nativity of My Saviour

I sing the birth was born tonight,

The Author both of life and light:

The angels so did sound it;

And like the ravished shepherds said,

Who saw the light and were afraid,

Yet searched, and true they found it.

 

The Son of God, th’eternal King,

That did us all salvation bring,

And freed the world from danger;

He whom the whole world could not take,

The Lord which heav’n and earth did make,

Was now laid in a manger.

 

The Father’s wisdom willed it so,

The Son’s obedience knew no “No,”

Both wills were in one stature;

And, as that wisdom had decreed,

The Word was now made flesh indeed,

And took on Him our nature.

 

What comfort by Him do we win,

Who made Himself the price of sin,

To make us heirs of glory!

To see this Babe, all innocence,

A Martyr born in our defence,

Can man forget this story?

 

Ben Jonson, [1573 – 1637] was first a bricklayer, and then a soldier in Flanders. He became an essayist, and one of the major dramatists and poets of the seventeenth century.

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Hurrahing in Harvest

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise

Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour

Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier

Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,

Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;

And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a

Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder

Majestic – as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –

These things, these things were here and but the beholder

Wanting; which two when they once meet,

The heart rears wings bold and bolder

And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet

Gerard Manley Hopkins drafted this, typically complex and prematurely modern, sonnet in September 1877 in the Vale of Clwyd, as he walked home from a day’s fishing in the River Elwy. It’s a harvest festival sort of poem.

Written in November

Autumn, I love thy parting look to view

In cold November’s day, so bleak and bare,

When, thy life’s dwindled thread worn nearly thro’,

With ling’ring, pott’ring pace, and head bleach’d bare,

Thou, like an old man, bidd’st the world adieu.

I love thee well: and often, when a child,

Have roam’d the bare brown heath a flower to find;

And in the moss-clad vale, and wood-bank wild

Have cropt the little bell-flowers, pearly blue,

That trembling peep the shelt’ring bush behind.

When winnowing north-winds cold and bleaky blew,

How have I joy’d, with dithering hands, to find,

Each fading flower; and still how sweet the blast,

Would bleak November’s hour restore the joy that’s past.

John Clare