1849–?

Introduction

Born: 1849, Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land.

Biography

Smith lived for ma­ny years in Hal­i­fax, York­shire. In 1906, he was in Bow­don, Che­shire.

Publications

Poem

Christmas Time

This is the time of ice and snow,
The white roads hide themselves in white,
The silver fields are all aglow
With sparkles in the morning light;
The icicles, like jewels rare,
Are hung along the cottage eaves,
And trees, into the frosty air,
Reach out vain arms and cry for leaves.
The white hills climb into the sky,
On silent heights the air is chill,
The ponds are frozen hard and dry,
And all the busy streams are still.
And up and down the people go,
A little cloud about their lips,
Their faces ruddy with the glow
That tingles to their finger-tips.
The little children in the street
Are singing now their carol sweet.

This is the time of ruddy fires:
We brighten in their cheerful glow,
When down the frosty day retires,
And darkness nestles to the snow;
And far into the darkness round
Stream forward from the window-pane
A pleasant light and merry sound,
To send the darkness back again.
For guests are come, the table spread,
And every care is laid away;
O ye who have no lack of bread
Think of the poor this Christmas Day!
Remember, too, the tearful eyes
Of weary ones who lie in pain,
And in your hearts there shall arise
A joy to mingle with the strain.
The little children in the street
Are singing in their carol sweet.

This is the time when friends are dear,
The near at home, or seldom seen;
They gather round our Christmas cheer,
And talk with us of what has been.
But who shall fill the vacant seat
Of him we saw last Christmas Day?
The narrower circle, incomplete,
Has waited since he went away;
And we may sing the old, old songs,
The simple songs he loved to sing—
To every word his voice belongs,
We hear his mellower music ring,
Till voices cease and eyes grow dim,
And o’er wide seas dim fancies roam;
We wonder, while we think of him,
If he has tender thoughts of home.
The little children in the street
Are singing still their carol sweet.

This is the time for looking back
On all the teeming days behind,
On what we have, and what we lack,
And haply strove in vain to find.
A something, too, of sadness creeps
Upon us, wheresoe’er we go,
Of knowledge that in fulness keeps
The littleness of all we know;
The way we saw before we stepped
Upon the year so lately trod,
How holds it with the journey kept,
This toilsome year, ’tween man and God?
The plans, the hopes, the tangled knot,
That we have made of all our schemes,
Perchance a face, I know not what,
That rises often in our dreams.
The little children in the street
Are singing still their carol sweet.

This is the time for looking on,
And oh, how vague the journey seems!
Rich guerdon from the year that ’s gone,
Of doubt to mingle with our dreams.
And oh, how small we seem to be,
How easy wavered to and fro!
The purpose of our history
Oft fickle as a flake of snow.
We look ahead, we plan, we build,
We make wise schemes of work and will;
And shall we find them unfulfilled,
Or shall we hold them faithful still?
Or shall some trouble unforeseen
Come down and darken all our days?
Or shall we journey on serene,
A pleasant life, in quiet ways?
The little children in the street
Are singing still their carol sweet.

Then we look on into the press
Of life: the crowd, the eager throng
Are waiting, full of hopefulness,
And we are eager too, and strong,
And cheerful of the days to be;
For whether light or storm appears,
Our days, our all, we trust to Thee,
O mighty Maker of the years!
We fail to mark a certain way,
No hand can guide us on but Thine;
So lead us on from day to day,
And light along the darkness shine.
O fill us with a faithful mind,
And, daily adding to our store,
The blessings of the days behind
Shall press us on to trust Thee more!
O little children in the street,
Sing on your trustful carol sweet.

Frederic Smith
A Chest of Viols, 1896

Sources

Lyrics

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