Lacking samite and sable,
Lacking silver and gold,
The Prince Jesus in the poor stable
Slept, and was three hours old.
As doves by the fair water,
Mary, not touch’d of sin,
Sat by Him,— the King’s daughter,
All glorious within.
A lily without one stain, a
Star where no spot hath room.
Ave, gratia plena —
Clad not in pearl-sewn vesture,
Clad not in cramoisie,
She hath hush’d, she hath cradled to rest, her
God the first time on her knee.
Where is one to adore Him?
The ox hath dumbly confess’d,
With the ass, meek kneeling before Him,
"Et homo factus est."
Not throned on ivory or cedar,
Not crown’d with a Queen’s crown,
At her breast it is Mary shall feed her
Maker, from Heaven come down.
The trees in Paradise blossom
Sudden, and its bells chime —
She giveth Him, held to her bosom,
Her immaculate milk the first time.
The night with wings of angels
Was alight, and its snow-pack’d ways
Sweet made (say the Evangels)
With the noise of their virelays.
Quem vidistis, pastores?
Why go ye feet unshod?
Wot ye within yon door is
Mary, the Mother of God?
No smoke of spice is ascending
There — no roses are piled —
But, choicer than all balms blending
There Mary hath kiss’d her child.
"Dilectus meus mihi
Et ego Illi" — cold
Small cheek against her cheek, He
Sleepeth, three hours old.
May Probyn (1856-1909)
from Pansies: A book of poems, 1895
[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]
May Probyn biography