This collection of traditional, festive Christmas poems will spark the holiday spirit. Share them as you hang the stockings, to introduce a delicious feast, or as you settle in front of the tree on Christmas Eve.

Pictured: our Christmas Reading Collection


Minstrels
William Wordsworth

The minstrels played their Christmas tune

Tonight beneath my cottage-eaves;

While, smitten by a lofty moon,

The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,

Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,

That overpowered their natural green.

 

Through hill and valley every breeze

Had sunk to rest with folded wings:

Keen was the air, but could not freeze,

Nor check, the music of the strings;

So stout and hardy were the band

That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.

 

And who but listened? — till was paid

Respect to every inmate’s claim,

The greeting given, the music played

In honour of each household name,

Duly pronounced with lusty call,

And ‘Merry Christmas’ wished to all.

 

Christmas art - Weiner Elementary

 

French Noel

William Morris

Masters, in this Hall,

Hear ye news to-day

Brought from over sea,

And ever I you pray.

 

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell sing we clear

Holpen are all folk on earth, Born is God’s Son so dear: 

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell sing we loud!

God to-day hath poor folk rais’d, And cast down the proud.

 

Going over the hills,

Through the milk-white snow,

Hear I ewes bleat

While the wind did blow.

 

Shepherds many an one

Sat among the sheep,

No man spake more word

Than they had been asleep.

 

Quoth I ‘Fellows mine,

Why this guise sit ye?

Making but dull cheer,

Shepherds though ye be?

 

‘Shepherds should of right

Leap and dance and sing;

Thus to see ye sit

Is a right strange thing.’

 

Quoth these fellows then,

‘To Bethlem town we go,

To see a mighty Lord

Lie in a manger low.’

 

‘How name ye this Lord,

Shepherds?’ then said I.

‘Very God,’ they said,

Come from Heaven high.’

 

Then to Bethlem town

We went two and two

And in a sorry place

Heard the oxen low.

Therin did we see

A sweet and goodly May

And a fair old man;

Upon the straw She lay.

And a little Child

On Her arm had She;

‘Wot ye Who this is?’

Said the hinds to me.

Ox and ass Him know,

Kneeling on their knee:

Wondrous joy had I

This little Babe to see.

This is Christ the Lord

Master, be ye glad!

Christmas is come in,

And no folk should be sad.

 

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell sing we clear

Holpen are all folk on earth, Born is God’s Son so dear:

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell sing we loud!

God to-day hath poor folk rais’d, And cast down the proud. 

 

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I Sing of a Maiden

Traditional Christmas Poem

I sing of a maiden

That is makèless;

King of all kings

The her son she ches.

 

He came all so still

Where his mother was,

As dew in April

That falleth on the grass.

 

He came all so still

To his mother’s bowr,

As dew in April

That falleth on the flower.

 

He came all so still

Where his mother lay,

As dew in April

That falleth on the spray.

 

Mother and maiden

Was never none but she;

Well may such a lady

Godès mother be.

 

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The Mother of God

W. B. Yeats

The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare

Through the hollow of an ear;

Wings beating about the room;

The terror of all terrors that I bore

The Heavens in my womb.

 

Had I not found content among the shows

Every common woman knows,

Chimney corner, garden walk,

Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes

And gather all the talk?

 

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,

This fallen star my milk sustains,

This love that makes my heart’s blood stop

Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones

And bids my hair stand up?

 

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Peace

Henry Vaughan

My soul, there is a country

Far beyond the stars,

Where stands a wingèd sentry

All skilful in the wars.

There, above noise and danger,

Sweet peace sits crown’d with smiles,

And one born in a manger

Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious friend

And (O my soul, awake!)

Did in pure love descend

To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,

There grows the flower of peace,

The rose that cannot wither,

Thy fortress, and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges;

For none can thee secure

But one, who never changes,

Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

 

Moroni - Madonna and Child | National Postal Museum

 


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