The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To A Lady

With a Head of Diana

Words: Thomas William Parsons
Vocal Recording: MP3 / OGG

Source: To a Lady,
 Accessed November 16, 2006

MY Christmas gifts were few: to one    
  A fan, to keep love’s flame alive,    
Since even to the constant sun    
  Twilight and setting must arrive;

And to another—she who sent
  That splendid toy, an empty purse—    
I gave, though not for satire meant,    
  An emptier thing—a scrap of verse;

For thee I chose Diana’s head,    
  Graved by a cunning hand in Rome,
To whose dim shop my feet were led    
  By sweet remembrances of home.

’T was with a kind of pagan feeling    
  That I my little treasure bought,—    
My mood I care not for concealing,—
  “Great is Diana!” was my thought.

Methought, howe’er we change our creeds,    
  Whether to Jove or God we bend,    
By various paths religion leads    
  All spirits to a single end.

The goddess of the woods and fields,    
  The healthful huntress, undefiled,    
Now with her fabled brother yields    
  To sinless Mary and her Child.

But chastity and truth remain
  Still the same virtues as of yore,    
Whether we kneel in Christian fane    
  Or old mythologies adore.

What though the symbol were a lie,—    
Since the ripe world hath wiser grown,—
If any goodness grew thereby,    
  I will not scorn it for mine own.

So I selected Dian’s head    
  From out the artist’s glittering show;    
And this shall be my gift, I said,    
  To one that bears the silver bow;

To her whose quiet life has been    
  The mirror of as calm a heart,    
Above temptation from the din    
  Of cities, and the pomp of art;

Who still hath spent her active days    
  Cloistered amid her happy hills,    
Not ignorant of worldly ways,    
  But loving more the woods and rills.

And thou art she to whom I give
  This image of the virgin queen,    
Praying that thou, like her, mayst live    
  Thrice blest! in being seldom seen.

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