Advent to Candlemas (Vol. 3)

The Gentile Light

How prettily the snow conceals
The dirt and squalor of the poor,
How quaint the rustic stable stands,
A hanging star above the door:
How sweet the song that angels sang,
To rustic shepherds kneeling down,
The camels docile, to a point,
The wise men stately and benign.

Behind the art and glossy cards,
The travellers shiver in the cold,
The wind dissects the rotting wood,
The shepherds, though still young, look old;
The wise men, harassed and distressed,
Revile the star and dream of home;
And behind Herod's slaughtering troops
There stands the might of cruel Rome.

But in the Spirit Simeon feels
The paradox of beauty's grief,
The humble family with their doves
The promise of the world's relief:
No artifice nor sentiment,
Can make the sacred flame more bright,
No balm assuage the sacrifice
Which sets aflame the Gentile light.