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Nor all the gods beside
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine; Our babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtained with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave, The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail,
Each fettered ghost slips to his several
And the yellow-skirted fays
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her babe to rest;
Time is our tedious song should here have
Heaven's youngest-teemèd star
Hath fixed her polished car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serv
A MOTHER IN EGYPT
About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill.
Is the noise of grief in the palace over the river
For this silent one at my side?
There came a hush in the night, and he rose with his hands a-quiver
Like lotus petals adrift on the swing of the tide.
O small cold hands, the day groweth old for sleeping!
O small still feet, rise up, for the hour is late!
Rise up, my son, for I hear them mourning and weeping
In the temple down by the gate!
Hushed is the face that was wont to brighten with laughter
When I sang at the mill;
And silence unbroken shall greet the sorrowful dawns hereafter,
The house shall be still.
Voice after voice takes up the burden of wailing
Do you not heed, do you not hear?— in the high priest's house by the wall.
But mine is the grief, and their sorrow is all unvailing.
Will he awake at their call?
Something I saw of the broad dim wings half folding
The passionless brow.
Something I saw of the sword that the shadowy hands were holding,
What matters it now?
I held you close, dear face, as I knelt and harkened
To the wind that cried last night like a soul
When the broad bright stars dropped down and the soft sky darkened
And the presence moved therein.
I have heard men speak in the market-place of the city,
Low-voiced, in a breath,
Of a God who is stronger than ours, and who knows not changing nor pity,
Whose anger is death.
Nothing I know of the lords of the outland
But Amud is gentle and Hathor the mother is mild,
And who would descend from the light of the Peaceful Places
To war on a child?
Yet here he lies, with a scarlet pomegranate petal
Blown down on his cheek.
The slow sun sinks to the sand like a shield of some burnished metal,
But he does not speak.
I have called, I have sung, but he neither will hear nor waken;
So lightly, so whitely, he lies in the curve
"The swallow flies home to her sleep in the
eaves of the altar,
And the crane to her nest."
So do we sing o'er the mill, and why, ah, why should I falter,
Since he goes to his rest?
Does he play in their flowers as he played among these with his mother?
Do the gods smile downward and love him and give him their care?
Guard him well, O ye gods, till I come; lest the wrath of that Other
Should reach to him there.
Marjorie L. C. Pickthall
As Joseph was a-waukin',
"His birth-bed shall be neither
"He neither shall be rocked
"He neither shall be washen
With white wine nor with red,
But with the fair spring water