"Halt! Who goes there?" the sentry's call
Rose on the midnight air
Above the noises of the camp,
The roll of wheels, the horses' tramp.
The challenge echoed over all --
"Halt! Who goes there?"
A quaint old figure clothed in white,
He bore a staff of pine,
And ivy-wreath was on his head.
"Advance, O friend," the sentry said,
"Advance, for this is Christmas Night,
And give the countersign."
"No sign or countersign have I.
Through many lands I roam
The whole world over far and wide.
To exiles all at Christmastide
From those who love them tenderly
I bring a thought of home.
"From English brook and Scottish burn,
From cold Canadian snows,
From those far lands ye hold most dear
I bring you all a greeting here,
A frond of a New Zealand fern,
A bloom of English rose.
"From faithful wife and loving lass
I bring a wish divine,
For Christmas blessings on your head."
"I wish you well," the sentry said,
"But here, alas! you may not pass
Without the countersign."
He vanished -- and the sentry's tramp
Re-echoed down the line.
It was not till the morning light
The soldiers knew that in the night
Old Santa Claus had come to camp
Without the countersign.
A. B. "Banjo" Paterson 1900
Read more classic poetry from A. B. "Banjo" Paterson
here at the BAR-D.
A Christmas Prayer
Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air
Busy shoppers hustle home through Central Park.
The tree must be ten stories tall in Rockefeller Square
A million lights are sparkling in the dark.
It's a fast-paced life I'm living; it's first class all the way.
Fancy office, fancy parties, fancy things.
"I'm shooting for the works" is what my friends all heard me say,
And now I dine with presidents and kings.
Oh, it's glamorous all right, success and all the rest.
And maybe it's this little skiff of snow.
But tonight I'm kind of lonesome for a little place out west,
And a cowboy down the road I used to know.
I bet an opal moon shines on the Eastern Slopes tonight,
The hills lie still beneath a snowy shawl.
Chores are done, the porch light's on, a fire crackles bright,
Maybe Ian's singing at the Longview Hall.
It's the symphony for me tonight, Champagne and caviar.
Oh, the swirl and sway and sparkle of this place!
But you know, I kind of long to hear a cowboy's soft guitar
And to feel a warm Chinook upon my face.
Where'd she go-that little girl who used to live in cowboy boots,
Made sure each year the reindeer got some hay.
She's not gone far-just dresses now in silk designer suits
And is living life the New York City way.
Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air.
A dab of French perfume—my cab is here.
In the swirl and sway and sparkle, I say a Christmas prayer:
"May it be Christmas in Alberta for me next year."
© 2003, Doris Daley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Read more of Doris Daley's poetry here.
Christmas in the country is a different sort'a thing.
A quiet, peaceful, solitude, that nature seems to bring.
Yet, some folks from the city feel sad we miss so much.
Tinsel town mall muffin's think: We're really out of touch!
No decorated streets to flaunt the merchants floats paradin'.
No helicoptored Santa's land to sirens serenadin'.
Far removed from distant crowds of noisy people shoppin',
scramblin' hard toout do friends, must really keep'em hoppin'.
We have no crowded shopping malls chuck full'a plastic toys.
No bands a tootin' Christmas songs that get lost in the noise.
The curried groves of pine and spruce that crowd each vacant space,
designer colors coat the boughs and take away their grace!
I'm givin' thought to such as this as we come 'round the bend,
the team now breaks into a trot as they see journey's end.
With full moon just a peekin' o'er the mountains to the east,
its light careens off snow clad trees and gives our eyes a feast.
Beside me in the bobsleigh, is a Christmas tree a ridin',
and faces framed by fur trimmed caps are laughin' as we're glidin'.
Just up ahead, a cabin's light, smoke curlin' from its stack.
A cheery voice is callin' out--"So glad to see you're back!"
Aroma of good things to eat, a driftin' out our way,
makes us want to hurry as we feed the team their hay.
We finish chores, then take the tree, into the house for Mom to see--
We knew that she would tell our Dad: "Prettiest tree we've ever had!"
Christmas morning! What a sight! Not much sleepin' here last night.
Grandfolks made it through the drifts, family fun, exchange of gifts.
We told our stories, laughed at Dad, best Christmas that we've ever had!
At Christmas time don't pity me--This is what they all should be!!
© 2001 Sajac
Read more Sam Jackson's poetry here.
Santa had had a bad night,
the reindeer were feeling lazy,
and not flying high too fast
and the skies were plenty hazy.
So when he saw a large roof ahead,
he was sure it was the MacFie's,
and sighed a sigh of large relief
when he pulled the brake release!
His mileage was a bit off
and he hit the roof of an old barn.
He started to unload some
and retrieved a doll made of yarn.
When he heard some noises down below
that woke him out of his near sleep--
there was neighing, mooing and baaing--
and he had a barn full of sheep!
This was not the MacFie's,
but Ross' barn across the hillside.
Yep, he was having a bad night
and poor Santa nearly cried!
For what toy does none give a ram sheep
or a Holstein or a roan horse?
He surely had some trouble
for getting so far off of course!
He tried to hurry and fly off,
but the reindeer had dozed off now
and besides, Santa was
treed in the loft by one angry cow!
So he got to thinking
and dug out a couple wood sheep
for the ram to jam at
and once in a while the things would beep.
Each horse got a new saddle
and the cows some extra reindeer hay,
and Santa sighed and flew off
before the break of day!
© Nov. 15, 2003, Jean Mathisen Haugen
Read more of Jean Mathisen Haugen's poetry here.
A Tallgrass Prairie Christmas
Old Santa could drive any team.
He was better than the best.
But that blizzard ragin' down below
Was puttin him to the test.
You see, the snow weren't exactly fallin'
It was blowin' from left to right.
The wind was whirlin' and swirlin'
On this most special night.
Out here on the open prairie
Winter can come and go.
This time it came with a vengence,
We was darn near buried in snow.
Santa was circlin' and circlin',
Goin' round and round and round,
Lookin' for the slightest chance
To get his team of reindeer down.
Cause, pardner, it was Christmas eve.
There was a town down there below
And Santa ain't the kind of guy
To be stopped by a few feet of snow.
He thought he just might be able
To sweep on down close by.
So he swung his sleigh in a sweeping turn
And headed down for a try.
That sleigh bucked and rocked somethin' awful
Santa reined his team to the right
And they fought and fought and struggled
To penetrate that blowing white.
It turned out they couldn't make it through
And they had to turn away.
But old Santa heard something down below
And knew he didn't need to stay.
It would'a been nice to have made it down.
But it had all clearly worked out.
Those folks down there in that town below
Knew what Christmas was all about.
You see what Santa heard in that blizzard
Let him know that all would be right,
For he heard those folks a'singin'-----
"Silent night ----- Holy night!
All is calm ------ All is bright!"
And old Santa proclaimed as he rose out of sight,
"Merry Christmas To All On This Most Holy Night!"
Unpublished Work, © 1997, James H. John
Read more of Jim John's poetry here.
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