Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
A Christmas Carol
By George Wither (1588–1667)
 
SO now is come our joyfulst feast;
  Let every man be jolly,
Each room with ivy leaves is drest
  And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,        5
Round your foreheads garlands twine,
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
  And let us all be merry.
*        *        *        *        *
Now every lad is wondrous trim,
  And no man minds his labour;        10
Our lasses have provided them
  A bag-pipe and a tabor.
Young men and maids and girls and boys
Give life to one another’s joys,
And you anon shall by their noise        15
  Perceive that they are merry.
 
Rank misers now do sparing shun,
  Their hall of music soundeth;
And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
  So all things here aboundeth.        20
The country folk themselves advance,
For Crowdy-mutton’s come out of France,
And Jack shall pipe, and Jill shall dance,
  And all the town be merry.
 
Ned Swash hath fetched his bands from pawn,        25
  And all his best apparel;
Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
  With droppings of the barrel.
And those that hardly all the year
Had bread to eat or rags to wear,        30
Will have both clothes and dainty fare
  And all the day be merry.
*        *        *        *        *
The wenches with their wassail-bowls
  About the street are singing,
The boys are come to catch the owls,        35
  The wild-mare in is bringing.
Our kitchen-boy hath broke his box,
And to the dealing of the ox
Our honest neighbours come by flocks,
  And here they will be merry.
*        *        *        *        *
        40
Then wherefore in these merry days
  Should we I pray be duller?
No let us sing our roundelays
  To make our mirth the fuller;
And whilest thus inspired we sing        45
Let all the streets with echoes ring:
Woods, and hills, and every-thing
  Bear witness we are merry.
 
 
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