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Christmas by Celia

1900 Xmas book

Yes virginia, there was a Santa in Victorian Portsmouth. Tales of Saint Nick and the practice of feasting and gift giving were evolved here in the late 1800s. Celia Thaxter knew Mr. Charles Dickens, author of "A Christmas Carol" and wrote of Santa, the Yule Log, decorative angels and Christmas Eve. For the first time online, Celia’s rarely seen holiday poetry.


VISIT: Our Celia Thaxter section
VISIT: Our Seacoast Poetry section

It isn’t her finest work. That’s likely why these holiday bits were left unpublished in her lifetime. Seacoast poet Celia Thaxter (1835 – 1894) wrote a number of holiday poems celebrating Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. As her fame spread, she often penned holiday greeting cards for a fee. Writing on assigned topics was more difficult, she discovered, than writing from the heart about her beloved Isles of Shoals. Her work also appeared in many illustrated children’s books and anthologies with titles like "Lothrop’s Christmas Book". Here then are five Christmas poems from the artist’s pen. -- JDR

By Celia Laighton Thaxter

O dear, mysterious Santa Claus,
The best and kindest that ever was
Are you up there in the thin blue smoke?
Was that the wind or your voice that spoke?

I thought of your coming the whole year through.
Are there some children who know not you?
Who are hungry and sad in the cold and snow?
Oh find them out, for you surely know.

On the warm stone I kneel and pray:
Give them a merry Christmas day,
Please great and small and let no one grieve;
Remember us all this Christmas Eve.

By Celia Laighton Thaxter

Lo, the sweet Christmas Angel, high and far,
In the clear, silent ether, poised between
The light, white crescent and the golden star,
Floats o’er the dreaming world with brow serene.

The sweet and stately Angel! On the air
Loosing her fair white dove, to cleave the blue
Down the wide spaces of the sky to bear
On snowy pinions peace and joy to you!

Peace and good-will to men! Look up and hail
The tidings beautiful, the news of cheer!
O Sons of Earth, the promise shall not fail
Of love that saves, and hope that knows no fear!


By Celia Laighton Thaxter

Carol sweet and carol clear,
‘Tis the day that crowns the year!
Up to Thee our hearts we raise;
Songs of joy and songs of praise
On the quiet air we pour;
Hear, O Christ, whom we adore!
Thou, God’s spirit and God’s gift,
Up to Thee our love we lift.

Happy day and holy hour
When man’s hope broke into flower!
When God’s promise was fulfilled,
Doubts were cancelled, fears were stilled,
When the Word Incarnate came
Clothed in music, winged with flame!
Carol sweet and carol clear,
‘Tis the day that crowns the year!

The Heavenly Guest by Celia Thaxter, Edited by her brother Oscar Laighton, 1935

CONTINUE with Ceilia’s Christmas Poems

By Celia Laighton Thaxter

Through the wide darkness of the night,
From heaven’s golden bars,
What vision floats serenely bright,
‘Neath the keen sparkling stars?

Whence comes this sweet, immortal cheer?
Who brings the holy sign?
O sleeping city, wake and hear
The messenger divine.

‘Tis Christmas Eve, with outspread wings
God’s angel floats above,
To all the waiting earth she brings
The blessing of His love.

Bearing a torch to kindle high
Joy’s fires on Christmas morn,
While all the choirs of heaven shall cry
"Rejoice! For Christ is born."


By Celia Laighton Thaxter

Come gather round the Yule log’s blaze!
In light and laughter leap the flames,
The fire sings like a hymn of praise,
Its warmth the heart of winter tames.

Behold the house is all aglow
From door to roof with Christmas cheer!
What matter how the cold winds blow!
Comfort and peace and joy are here.

Come share the Yule log’s glorious heat!
For many a year the grand old tree
Stood garnering up the sunshine sweet,
To keep for our festivity.

And now our Christmas Eve to bless
See how it yields its ardent rays!
As if to wish you happiness,
Honor and love and length of days.

"Welcome," it smiles with every beam,
saluting you with kindly power.
Its golden banners flash and gleam,
Its mellow splendor crowns the hour.

Then gather round the flames so bright,
Forget that winter blasts are stern,
So fervently this holy night
On friendships’ hearth the Yule fires burn.

The Heavenly Guest by Celia Thaxter, Edited by her brother Oscar Laighton, 1935

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