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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.                                                            St. John xvi. 21.

WELL may I guess and feel 
Why Autumn should be sad; 
But vernal airs should sorrow heal, 
Spring should be gay and glad: 
Yet as along this violet bank I rove, 
The languid sweetness seems to choke my breath, 
I sit me down beside the hazel grove, 
And sigh, and half could wish my weariness were death. 

Like a bright veering cloud 
Grey blossoms twinkle there, 
Warbles around a busy crowd 
Of larks in purest air. 
Shame on the heart that dreams of blessings gone, 
Or wakes the spectral forms of woe and crime, 
When nature sings of joy and hope alone, 
Reading her cheerful lesson in her own sweet time. 

Nor let the proud heart say, 
In her self-torturing hour, 
The travail pangs must have their way, 
The aching brow must lower. 
To us long since the glorious Child is born, 
Our throes should be forgot, or only seem 
Like a sad vision told for joy at morn, 
For joy that we have wak’d and found it but a dream. 

Mysterious to all thought 
A mother’s prime of bliss, 
When to her eager lips is brought 
Her infant’s thrilling kiss. 
O never shall it set, the sacred light 
Which dawns that moment on her tender gaze, 
In the eternal distance blending bright 
Her darling’s hope and hers, for love and joy and praise. 

No need for her to weep 
Like Thracian wives of yore, 
Save when in rapture still and deep 
Her thankful heart runs o’er. 
They mourn’d to trust their treasure on the main, 
Sure of the storm, unknowing of their guide: 
Welcome to her the peril and the pain, 
For well she knows the home where they may safely hide. 

She joys that one is born 
Into a world forgiven 
Her Father’s household to adorn, 
And dwell with her in heaven. 
So have I seen, in spring’s bewitching hour, 
When the glad earth is offering all her best, 
Some gentle maid bend o’er a cherish’d flower, 
And wish it worthier on a Parent’s heart to rest.