[Editor: This poem, by Mary Hannay Foott, was published in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 26 December 1891.]
The Christmas Angel.
Through skies of midnight swift he swept,
His earthward voyage holding —
Our year-long exile — whilst we slept
His wings besides as folding.
O Christmas, ere thy garments bright
O’er Western clouds are trailing,
Through farther heavens lies thy flight,
O’er other lands thou ’rt sailing.
Thou art ONE DAY for us and them:
Together, though asunder,
Are they who hold thy raiment-hem
And they thy dawn-smile under!
To lands by blue hills shut from us,
By wild seas separated,
Remember, whilst thou passest thus,
Thou goes’t not unfreighted.
When thou shalt see, in festal ring,
Dimmed eyes and lips that quiver
For “Absent Friends” recalled, then bring
Sweet memories — then, if ever.
When thou shalt hear, if we are blest,
Our names in kindness spoken,
Breathe blessings from our hearts, to rest
On them that give the token.
And when thy twelvemonth’s rest is given
Again, dear Lotus-eater,
And for thy entering back to Heaven
Thou summonest St. Peter.
Bear with thee, through the shining door,
The message now we falter —
If world-light wane not quite before
The glory of the Altar —
If any word of ours may reach
The Happy, for the setting
Of added happiness on each,
Say for us — “Unforgetting.”
Mary Hannay Foott.
The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 26 December 1891, p. xxx of the Christmas supplement
Also published in:
The Darling Downs Gazette (Toowoomba, Qld.), 21 December 1895, p. 9 of the Christmas supplement
The Warwick Argus (Warwick, Qld.), 21 December 1897, p. 7
The Warwick Argus (Warwick, Qld.), 21 December 1897, p. 1 of the Christmas Supplement [second appearance of the poem in this issue]
The Darling Downs Gazette (Toowoomba, Qld.), 23 December 1897, p. 5 (p. 1 of the Christmas supplement)
art = (archaic) are
asunder = apart, especially forced apart; separated; into separate parts, into separate pieces
blest = (archaic) blessed
ere = (archaic) before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)
goes’t = (archaic) go (also spelt “goest”)
Lotus-eater = in Greek mythology, an inhabitant of an island whose people would eat the fruit of the lotus tree, being a narcotic substance, which would make them dreamy, forgetful, indolent, lethargic, sleepy, and uncaring about the world around them; a daydreamer; someone who lives or acts in a dreamy, indolent, or lethargic manner; someone who lives or acts in a carefree manner, concentrating on seeking pleasure and luxury; someone who (for whatever reason) does not have to work, or who only needs to perform a minimal amount of work
See: 1) “Lotus-eaters”, Wikipedia
2) “lotus-eater”, Wiktionary
o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
passest = (archaic) pass
raiment = (archaic) clothing, garments
raiment-hem = the hem of a garment or piece of clothing
shalt = (archaic) shall
St. Peter = Saint Peter, a disciple of Jesus Christ; Saint Peter is traditionally regarded as the Saint who stands at the Gates of Heaven, determining whether or not those who present themselves should be allowed to enter
See: “Saint Peter”, Wikipedia
summonest = (archaic) summon
thee = (archaic) you (regarding a person as the object in a sentence)
thou = (archaic) you (regarding a person as the subject in a sentence)
thou ’rt = (archaic) “thou art” (“you are”); also spelt “thou’rt” (without a space)
thy = (archaic) your
twelvemonth = a year
wane = decrease gradually in intensity, number, size, strength, or volume (e.g. “the moonlight waxed and waned”); to lose power or significance (e.g. “on the wane”); to come to a close, approach the end