In The Battle Silences: Poems Written At The Front

by Frederick George Scott


 

YULETIDE IN FRANCE


 

O LITTLE sprig of rosemary, I pluck you in the garden,
In this little Gallic garden, on this misty winter’s day.
        I can hear the old rooks calling,
        And the distant shells are falling,
But this little sprig of rosemary has borne my heart away.
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O little sprig of rosemary, you bear me through the ages
To the olden golden Yuletides that our fathers knew of yore,
        When the midnight Mass bell ringing,
        Set the carol singers singing,
And sweet rosemary was scattered on the shining chancel floor.
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O little sprig of rosemary, I hear the song and laughter
When the boar’s head was carried in, adown the armored hall,
        And the rosemary and bay
       Were as sweet as new-mown hay,
While the merriment of Yuletide was uniting great and small.
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O little sprig of rosemary, I pluck you in the garden,
And my heart is sore and heavy with the cares we have to-day,
        For the Christ has been among us,
        And the Angel Hosts have sung us
All the happy songs of Heaven, but they sounded far away.
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O little sprig of rosemary, as I pluck you in the garden,
In this little Gallic garden where the brave are laid to rest,
        An English mother weeping
        A sad, sad Yule is keeping,
Remembering one who once was the Christ-Child on her breast.
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O little sprig of rosemary, I thank you for the dreaming,
In this hallowed Gallic garden, on this misty winter’s day;
        Your mission is to leaven
        This poor earth with thoughts of Heaven,
When, for those brave hearts that slumber here, we fold our hands and pray.
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