Poetry of Kansas

Two Christmas Guests.

'Tis Christmas eve. All silent lies the prairie brown and
And amid the voiceless shadows the midnight hours draw
As I sit here.musing, dreaming, and turning memory's
There pass in long procession, so many Christmas eves!
And one, of all the many, to-night stands out alone
In its joy and its tender sorrow, with a pathos all its own.
There were feasting and rejoicing, and the village streets
      were gay,
But the lights burned low and dimly in the house across
      the way.
Full well I knew the inmates___the household numbered
A husband, a dear old father, and a young wife fair to see.
Kindly they dwelt together, 'twas said none ever heard
In that house a tone of anger, nor any unkind word.
But Life and Death together that night had crossed the sill;
The good old man lay dying, and the fair young wife was ill.
Without the merry sleighbells rang up and down the street,
Within, were low hushed voices, and the tread of noiseless
A sound arose at midnight___the first cry of a child.
The dying grandsire heard it, looked up, and faintly smiled.
A son is born? I thank them O Father, for thy grace.
I go, but this one cometh, and he shall take my place.
I pray you bring him hither___go, bring the boy to me,
I fain would once behold him, while yet these eyes can see.
The babe was brought, and smiling, the old man softly said,
As he laid his pallid fingers on the tiny baby head:
I have no wealth to leave him, in houses or in lands,___
For e'en as I came hither, I go with empty hands:
But tell him for his grandsire___tell him as child and youth___
To be loyal, kind and loving, and always speak the truth.
But little more was spoken, a solemn silence fell,
Save but the sound of weeping, and the whisper, "All is
When Christmas morn rose brightly from out the shadows
A strip of crape was floating from the door across the way.
Amid the still night watches, thus calmly, peacefully,
Had the good old man departed___yet the household num-
      bered three.
Though Life and Death come surely into the homes of men.
They come not oft together, and so peacefully as then.
And that is why, in my musings, that night stands out
In its joy and its tender sorrow, with a pathos all its own.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 216-218

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April 3, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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