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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Syria: Bethlehem

The Shepherds’ Song

By William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)

O THAN the fairest day, thrice fairer night!

Night to best days in which a sun doth rise,

Of which that golden eye, which clears the skies,

Is but a sparkling ray, a shadow light:

And blessed ye, in silly pastor’s sight,

Mild creatures, in whose warm crib now lies

That heaven-sent Youngling, holy maid-born Wight,

Midst, end, beginning of our prophesies:

Blest cottage that hath flowers in winter spread,

Though withered; blessed grass, that hath the grace

To deck, and be a carpet to that place.

Thus sang, unto the sounds of oaten reed,

Before the Babe, the shepherds bowed on knees,

And springs ran nectar, honey dropt from trees.