Bells, joyous bells of the Christmas-time,
Dear is the song of your welcome chime;
Dear is the burden that softly wells
From your joyous throats, O tolling bells!
Dear is the message sweet you bind
Dove-like to wings of the wafting wind.
You tell how the Yule-king cometh forth
From his home in the heart of the icy North;
On his Eastern steeds how rusheth on
The wind-god of storms, Euroclydon;
How his trumpet strikes to the pallid stars
That shrink from the mad moon's silver bars,
Where the cold wind tortures the sobbing sea,
And the chill sleet pierces the pinioned lea,
As the snow king hurls from his frozen zone
The fragments fast of a tumbled throne.
But what is the song, O silver bells,
You sing of the ferny Austral dells,
Of the bracken height, and the sylvan stream,
And the breezy woodland's summer dream,
Lulled by the lute of the slow sweet rills
In the trembling heart of the great grave hills?
Ah, what is the song that you sing to me
Of the soft blue isles of our shimmering sea,
Where the slow tides sleep, and a purple haze
Fringes the skirts of the windless bays,
That, ringed with a circlet of beauty fair,
Start in the face of the dreamer there;
O, what is the burden of your sweet chimes,
Bells of the golden Christmas times?
You sing of the summer gliding down
From the stars that gem bright heaven's crown;
Of the flowers that fade in the autumn sere,
And the sunlit death of the old, old year.
Of the sweet South wind that sobs above
The grass-green grave of our buried love:
No bitter dirge from the stormy flow
Of a moaning sea,—ah! no, no, no!
But a sweet farewell, and a low soft hymn
Under the beautiful moons that swim
Over the silver seas that toss
Their foam to thy shrine, O Southern Cross!
O, bright is the burden of your sweet chimes,
Bells of the joyous Christmas times!
You bring to the old hearts throbbing slow
The beautiful dreams of the long ago;
Remembrance sweet of the olden Yule,
When hearts beat high in life's young school.
Ah, haply now, as they list to your chimes,
Will the voices rise of the olden times,
Till the wings of peace brood over the hours
Slipping like streams through sleepy bowers,
While you whisper the story loved of One
Who suffered for us—the sad sweet Son—
Who taught that afflictions, sent in love,
Chasten the soul for the realms above.