Publication:Burnley Free Press and General Advertiser
These four 8-line stanzas, each with a rhyme scheme of ABCBDEFE, contrast the “bright and cheering” festive spirit of the Christmas holiday to the “distress” people feel through the rest of the year. These oppositions that are separated into the first and second stanzas respectively collide in the final two stanzas, where the “chasten’d eyes” force a re-examination of the “rare” feast that the “festive season always brings”. The narrator enacts a reprimand for those who focus on the negatives during the holidays when there are others who are struggling more than them. Those fortunate enough to have a Christmas feast are told to ignore its extravagance because the joy of one Christmas banquet is enough to tackle the struggles the rest of the year brings.
This sense of joy is furthered through the personification of Christmas. The poem opens with “He comes! he comes!”, which changes from the title’s proper noun “Christmas” to the personal pronoun “he”; the first stanza then goes on to physically describe this “he”. By embodying Christmas in a human entity, the poet allows readers to view the holiday as akin to an old friend always there to lift their spirits, despite the barriers of “bitter frost and snow”. This therefore depicts Christmas as being loyal and reliable companion even through winters blighted by the Cotton Famine.
Lindsay Warner, University of Exeter