TO BE SUNG A LONG TIME AGO–OR HENCE
St. Joseph to the Carpenters said on a Christmas Day:
“The master shall have patience and the prentice shall obey;
And your word unto your women shall be nowise hard or wild:
For the sake of me, your master, who have worshipped Wife and Child.
But softly you shall frame the fence, and softly carve the door,
And softly plane the table–as to spread it for the poor,
And all your thoughts be soft and white as the wood of the white tree.
But if they tear the Charter, Jet the tocsin speak for me!
Let the wooden sign above your shop be prouder to be scarred
Than the lion-shield of Lancelot that hung at Joyous Garde.”
St. Crispin to the shoemakers said on a Christmastide:
“Who fashions at another’s feet will get no good of pride.
They were bleeding on the Mountain, the feet that brought good news,
The latchet of whose shoes we were not worthy to unloose.
See that your feet offend not, nor lightly lift your head,
Tread softly on the sunlit roads the bright dust of the dead.
Let your own feet be shod with peace; be lowly all your lives.
But if they touch the Charter, ye shall nail it with your knives.
And the bill-blades of the commons drive in all as dense array
As once a crash of arrows came, upon St. Crispin’s Day.”
St. Luke unto the painters on Christmas Day he said:
“See that the robes are white you dare to dip in gold and red;
For only gold the kings can give, and only blood the saints;
And his high task grows perilous that mixes them in paints.
Keep you the ancient order; follow the men that knew
The labyrinth of black and whits, the maze of green and blue;
Paint mighty things, paint paltry things, paint silly things or sweet.
But if men break the Charter, you may slay them in the street.
And if you paint one post for them, then … but you know it well,
You paint a harlot’s face to drag all heroes down to hell.”
Almighty God to all mankind on Christmas Day said He:
“I rent you from the old red hills and, rending, made you free.
There was charter, there was challenge; in a blast of breath I gave;
You can be all things other; you cannot be a slave.
You shall be tired and tolerant of fancies as they fade,
But if men doubt the Charter, ye shall call on the Crusade–
Trumpet and torch and catapult, cannon and bow and blade,
Because it was My challenge to all the things I made.”