Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LITTLE GOTTLIEB'S CHRISTMAS, by PHOEBE CARY



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LITTLE GOTTLIEB'S CHRISTMAS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Across the german ocean
Last Line: "he put the thought in your heart!"
Subject(s): Christmas; Nativity, The


ACROSS the German Ocean,
In a country far from our own,
Once, a poor little boy, named Gottlieb,
Lived with his mother alone.

They dwelt in the part of a village
Where the houses were poor and small,
But the home of little Gottlieb,
Was the poorest one of all.

He was not large enough to work,
And his mother could do no more
(Though she scarcely laid her knitting down)
Than keep the wolf from the door.

She had to take their threadbare clothes,
And turn, and patch, and darn;
For never any woman yet
Grew rich by knitting yarn.

And oft at night, beside her chair,
Would Gottlieb sit, and plan
The wonderful things he would do for her,
When he grew to be a man.

One night she sat and knitted,
And Gottlieb sat and dreamed,
When a happy fancy all at once
Upon his vision beamed.

'T was only a week till Christmas,
And Gottlieb knew that then
The Christ-child, who was born that day,
Sent down good gifts to men.

But he said, "He will never find us,
Our home is so mean and small.
And we, who have most need of them,
Will get no gifts at all."

When all at once, a happy light
Came into his eyes so blue,
And lighted up his face with smiles,
As he thought what he could do.

Next day when the postman's letters
Came from all over the land;
Came one for the Christ-child, written
In a child's poor trembling hand.

You may think he was sorely puzzled
What in the world to do;
So he went to the Burgomaster,
As the wisest man he knew.

And when they opened the letter,
They stood almost dismayed
That such a little child should dare
To ask the Lord for aid.

Then the Burgomaster stammered,
And scarce knew what to speak,
And hastily he brushed aside
A drop, like a tear, from his cheek.

Then up he spoke right gruffly,
And turned himself about:
This must be a very foolish boy,
And a small one, too, no doubt."

But when six rosy children
That night about him pressed,
Poor, trusting little Gottlieb
Stood near him, with the rest.

And he heard his simple, touching prayer,
Through all their noisy play;
Though he tried his very best to put
The thought of him away.

A wise and learned man was he,
Men called him good and just;
But his wisdom seemed like foolishness,
By that weak child's simple trust.

Now when the morn of Christmas came
And the long, long week was done,
Poor Gottlieb, who scarce could sleep,
Rose up before the sun,

And hastened to his mother,
But he scarce might speak for fear,
When he saw her wondering look, and saw
The Burgomaster near.

He was n't afraid of the Holy Babe,
Nor his mother, meek and mild;
But he felt as if so great a man
Had never been a child.

Amazed the poor child looked, to find
The hearth was piled with wood,
And the table, never full before,
Was heaped with dainty food.

Then half to hide from himself the truth
The Burgomaster said,
While the mother blessed him on her knees,
And Gottlieb shook for dread:

"Nay, give no thanks, my good dame,
To such as me for aid,
Be grateful to your little son,
And the Lord to whom he prayed!"

Then turning round to Gottlieb,
"Your written prayer, you see,
Come not to whom it was addressed,
It only came to me!

"'T was but a foolish thing you did,
As you must understand;
For though the gifts are yours, you know,
You have them from my hand."

Then Gottlieb answered fearlessly,
Where he humbly stood apart,
"But the Christ-child sent them all the same,
He put the thought in your heart!"





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