John Crowe Ransom
A Christmas Colloquy
THE country farmer has his joys
Of little city girls and boys
When brother Thomas brings his brood
Of motherless brats in Christmas mood
To try our country air and food.
And O what splendid pies and cakes
Their pleased and pretty grandma makes!
And O what squeals and stomach-aches!
Poor Thomas shepherds him a flock
Of city souls as hard as rock,
And though they will not fill his larder
He only preaches Christ the harder.
But Ann, though seven years my niece,
Is still a pagan little piece,
And as she often hints to me
She hates the sound of piety.
Fair Inez is my ancient setter
Who lies by the fire when we will let her:
Alas, this amiable dog
Heard all the bitter dialogue
That passed between my niece and brother
Misunderstanding one another.
Father, what will there be for me
To-morrow on the Christmas tree?
Have you told Santa what to bring,
My pony, my doll, and everything?
My daughter, Santa will know best
What to bring you, and what the rest.
But father and his little girl
And everybody in the world
Should dwell to-night on higher things,
For hark! the herald angel sings,
And in a manger poor and lowly
Lies little Jesus, high and holy.
Father, don't talk of little Jesus,
You're only doing it to tease us,
It isn't nearly time for bed,
And I want to know what Santa said.
Jesus is better than any toys
For little sinning girls and boys,
For Jesus saves, but sin destroys.
And O, it gives him sad surprise,
There must be tears in Jesus' eyes,
When little girls with bad behavior
Forget to own their Lord and Savior.
I didn't, you know it isn't true!
I say my prayers, I always do,
I know about Jesus very well,
And God the Father, Heaven, and Hell.
O please don't say it any more,
You've said it so many times before,
But tell me all about Santa instead,
And about the horns on his reindeer's head,
And what he will bring me on his sled.
This night he was born on earth for us,
And can my daughter mock him thus,
And care more for her worldly pleasures
Than Jesus' love and heavenly treasures?
For Jesus didn't like to be
So crowned with thorns and nailed to tree,
But there was a sinful world to free,
And out he went to Gethsemane--
And left the twelve and went apart--
O father, I know it off by heart,
Please, father, please don't finish it out,
There's so much else to talk about!
I ask about Santa, and there you go,
And now you're spoiling my Christmas so,
And you are the wickedest man I know!
Disgraceful scenes require the curtain,
But lest the moral be uncertain,
I briefly bring the good report
That valiant Thomas held the fort,
And wicked Ann was quite defeated,
In vain denied, in vain entreated,
In vain she wailed, in vain she wept,
And said a briny prayer, and slept.
While Inez, who had been perplexed
To see good kinsfolk so much vexed,
When peace descended on the twain,
Lay down beside the fire again.
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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