The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Woods' Litany

Words: Elizabeth Coatsworth

Source: Anne Thaxter Eaton, ed., Welcome Christmas! A Garland Of Poems. New York: The Viking Press, 1955.

Now birds that sleep in brittle trees,
Sparrows and jays and chickadees,
The last, last robin and the crow,
Awake beneath your thatch of snow
And hearing bells of midnight ring
Rouse up and through the darkness sing
How in your dreams across the snows,
A star, bright as a sun, arose.

And all you creatures furred and wise
That in the darkness close bright eyes,
Twitch quivering nostrils, leave your sleep
And from your dens and hollows creep.
See how the deer among the thorns
Raises the crosses of his horns,
While like soft candles at a feast
The doe's eyes turn to face the east!

Gentle is he
As windless snow.
Kind as a tree
With shelter below.

As a stream of water
In August heat,
As a blueberry bush,
Hidden and sweet,

Such is he
Who is born this day
In Bethlehem
So far away!

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