Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS, by EDWIN MARKHAM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: It was near the first cock-crowing
Last Line: Lord of peoples, light of nations, elder brother, tender friend.
Subject(s): Christmas; Jesus Christ; Shepherds & Shepherdesses; Nativity, The

IT was near the first cock-crowing,
And Orion's wheel was going,
When an angel stood before us and our hearts were sore afraid.
Lo, his face was like the lightning,
When the walls of heaven are whitening,
And he brought us wondrous tidings of a joy that shall not fade.

Then a Splendor shone around us,
In the still field where he found us,
A-watch upon the Shepherd Tower and waiting for the light;
There where David as a stripling,
Saw the ewes and lambs go rippling
Down the little hills and hollows at the falling of the night.

Oh, what tender, sudden faces
Filled the old familiar places,
The barley-fields where Ruth of old went gleaning with the birds!
Down the skies the host came swirling,
Like sea-waters white and whirling,
And our hearts were strangely shaken by the wonder of their words.

Haste, O people: all are bidden—
Haste from places, high or hidden:
In Mary's Child the Kingdom comes, the heaven in beauty bends!
He has made all life completer:
He has made the Plain Way sweeter,
For the stall is His first shelter and the cattle His first friends.

He has come! the skies are telling:
He has quit the glorious dwelling;
And first the tidings came to us, the humble shepherd folk.
He has come to field and manger,
And no more is God a Stranger:
He comes as Common Man at home with cart and crookèd yoke.

As the shadow of a cedar
To a traveler in Gray Kedar
Will be the kingdom of His love, the kingdom without end.
Tongues and Ages may disclaim Him,
Yet the Heaven of heavens will name Him
Lord of peoples, Light of nations, elder Brother, tender Friend.

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