Christmas in the ‘Hard Times’

Thou art coming, hale and hoary
Christmas, king of cheer and gladness;
But there’s dimness in thy glory,
And thy joy is tinged with sadness.
Yet we’ll welcome thee with pleasure,
In the hope of better days;
And no sad or mournful measure
Shall inspire our Christmas lays.
Welcome! joy inspiring spirit,
Brooding o’er the dying year;
May mankind from thee inherit
Peace, with its attendant cheer.
Driving back the shade of sorrow,
Still we cry, “All hail to thee!”
Be thou like the coming morrow
Which shall set the prisoner free.
Bless the rich with noble feeling,
That the rich may bless the poor;
Keep the wasted hand from stealing;
Keep gaunt famine from the door.
When thou’st wooed all men with gladness,—
When thou’st opened plenty’s store,—
Bind the fiends of war and madness—
Keep them prisoners evermore.
Then from every hill and valley
Peace and happiness shall smile;
Joy shall light each street and alley
Through our patient, generous isle.
TAYLOR’S, too, with beauty glowing,
In the styles which all admire,
Will be found on all bestowing
Beauteous, good, and cheap attire!

Title:Christmas in the ‘Hard Times’

Author:E. Taylor

Publication:Preston Guardian

Published in:Preston




Written in melodic trochaic tetrameter with some lines omitting the last syllable of the pattern, this poem functions as both an encouragement to celebrate the gifts of Christmas and an advertisement for a clothing store. The narrator addresses the personification of Christmas with words of optimism despite “dimness in [its] glory.” A capitalistic tone (“Bless the rich with noble feeling, / That the rich may bless the poor”) emerges halfway through the poem; this eventually culminates in a call to patronize E. Taylor’s clothing store in the last four lines. Rather than ending with a tone of universal solidarity against poverty and strife, the poem appeals to a class who can afford to shop at a clothing store like Taylor’s and implores Christmas to keep “the wasted hand” from stealing, and keep “gaunt famine” from the door.

Bess Amelia Yeager, University of Exeter