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On the street,
I hear the crispy tread of snowy feet;
Through doors, through windows creeps the icy air.


I shiver
As twilight settles over town and river,
Looking forth
So drearily towards the frozen north.


In the grate
Glows to its heart the fiery anthracite;
Yet the chill
Of the season pierces through me still.


But the poor--
God help them! To thy mercy's open door
Must we bring
Thy poor ones, Jesus, as their lowly King.


Hands drop down
Fainting with hunger, and the well-fed frown
When they see
The pinched and pleading face of poverty.


Poor and thin
Are the soiled garments they must wander in;
While the proud
Still claim the warm, soft cashmere for a shroud.


Old teeth must
Break with slow, patient toil the refuse crust,
While a dish
Suits the young gourmand's every varying wish.


Yet the poor,
Jesus, are Thine; and, as to make it sure,
For their sake
Thou didst Thy cradle of a manger make.


All Thy years,
Thy three-and-thirty, passed in toil and tears;
And no bed
Hadst Thou at night on which to lay Thy head.


In Thy mind
Thy poor ones live, and still Thy heart, so kind,
Bethlehem, and the chill of our Decembers.


Therefore take
The shivering to Thy arms for Bethlehem's sake;
While sweet heed
Will Mary take for little ones in need.