Famous Holiday Poem

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet who lived from 1806-1861. Her first book of poems was published privately by her father at the age of 14. She was a Christian who taught herself Greek and Hebrew so she could better study the Bible, and this poem has religious roots in the retelling of Christ’s birth.

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The Holy Night

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We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought their visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tongue:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!

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