The 1864 Christmas Poems and Pictures: A Collection of Songs, Carols, and Descriptive Poems relating to the Festival of Christmas is typical of the Christmas books popular during the Civil War period. Published in New York by James J. Gregory it contains old English Christmas carols such as “A Carol for the Wassail Bowl”, religious and seasonal poems by well-know poets such as Sir Walter Scott and John Milton, Shakespeare and Longfellow and the still-popular “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore. The book is illustrated with etchings many showing the holiday being celebrated in “olden times”.
One of the few anonymous poems in this volume is “The Christmas Tree”. I offer it here as a holiday wish to you all.
A merry, merry Christmas!
To crown the closing year;
Peace and good-will to mortals,
And words of holy cheer!
What though the dreary landscape
Be robed in drifting snow,
If on the social hearthstone
The Christmas fire may glow?
What though the wind at evening
Blow harsh o’er land and sea,
If eager hands and joyful
Light up the Christmas Tree?
Soft falls its pleasing lustre
Upon the group around,—
On merry laughing childhood,
And age with glory crowned.
With eyes of rapture beaming,
Each little guest receives Affection’s token gleaming
From out the shining leaves.
The grand-dame greets her children,
And smiles their joy to see,
On Christmas eves of olden
So eager once was she.
With peace serene and beautiful
Her waning life shall shine,
As Christmas crowns the twelve months
With light and joy divine.
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