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Featured Poem: The Christmas Homes of England by Caroline Hayward

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 9th December 2013

It's the second week of December, which means that we're onto our second helping of poetry to help you prepare for the Christmas season here on The Reader Online with this week's Featured Poem.

Around the country, windows are slowly starting to light up amidst the dark nights, glimmer and glows shining out to provide visible evidence of Christmas cheer. We may come across all kinds of decorations - some quite surprising and sometimes at first glance quite confusing - but surely nothing can beat a traditional Christmas tree, the centrepiece of the home at Christmas. If you're getting ready to put up your decorations, or if you're already sitting back and admiring your work, this poem from Victorian poet Caroline Hayward is the perfect accompaniment to ensure some pride in festive dressing - with more than a solemn reminder of what the season is like away from such warmth.

The Christmas Homes of England

The Christmas homes of England!
How far-famed and how dear;
In bright array they ever stand,
That glad day of the year;
When gathered round the hearth-stone,
The loved ones joyful meet,
With one accord from far and near,
The circle glad to greet.

The Christmas homes of England!
O, many a joyous brow,
Which ever yet hath hailed that day,
Will sorrowfully bow,
When this one now returneth;
For they look, but look in vain,
The pride and joy of that glad home,
They ne’er shall see again!

The Christmas homes of England!
In manhood's noblest bloom,
On Alma's bloody fields thy lords
Have found their lowly tomb;
The warrior grey, whose stalwart arm
Had prostrate laid the foe;
And gallant sons of noble sires,
By them in death lie low!

The Christmas homes of England!
Alike in peasant's cot,
Where hath the death-wail not been heard,
Where hath it entered not?
And the widowed mother silent weeps,
And sheds the bitter tear,
As fancy sees her gallant boy,
The cold ground for his bier!

The Christmas homes of England!
In that far-off Eastern land,
What thoughts will be awakened
Among that gallant band?
How from scenes so dark and fearful,
Their spirit will take flight
To the bright home of their childhood,
And the happy Christmas night!

The Christmas homes of England!
The love of many years
Is turned into a ceaseless fount
Of bitterness and tears;
The mother and the widow,
The maiden and the child,
They call; but none shall answer,
Those loving accents mild!

O, Christmas homes of England!
There's One, the widow's God!
Who, while He chastens, pitieth
The sad ones 'neath His rod;
His arm beneath supported
Thy loved ones in the field,
And whispered, "Leave thy little ones
To me, their God, their shield!

O, Christmas homes of England!
Let all unite in prayer,
That He, the widow's God, may take
Such to His special care;
And we to whom he spareth
Our hearts best treasure yet;
The widow and the orphan,
O let us not forget!

Caroline Hayward

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