A Carol for Children

The Holy Innocents is commemorated December 28 or January 11

God rest you merry, Innocents,
Let nothing you dismay.
Let nothing wound an eager heart
Upon this Christmas day.

Yours be the genial holly wreaths.
The stockings by the tree;
An aged world to you bequeaths
Its own forgotten glee.

Soon, soon enough come crueler gifts,
The anger and the tears;
Between you now there sparsely drifts
A handful yet of years.

Oh, dimly, dimly grows the star
Through the electric throng;
The bidding in temple and bazaar
Drowns out the silver song.

The ancient altars smoke afresh,
The ancient idols stir;
Faint in the reek of burning flesh
Sink frankincense and myrrh.

Gaspar, Balthazar, Melcheor!
Where are your offerings now?
What greeting to the Prince of War
His darkly branded brow?

Two ultimate laws alone we know,
The ledger and the sword -
So far away, so long ago,
We lost the infant Lord.

Only the children clasp His hand;
His voice speaks low to them.
And still for them the shining band
Wings over Bethlehem.

God rest you merry, Innocents,
While Innocence endures.
A sweeter Christmas than we to ours
May you bequeath to yours.

Ogden Nash



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