James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 25

The Mahogany Tree

By William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

CHRISTMAS is here;

Winds whistle shrill,

Icy and chill,

Little care we;

Little we fear

Weather without,

Sheltered about

The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs

Birds of rare plume

Sang, in its bloom;

Night-birds are we;

Here we carouse,

Singing, like them,

Perched round the stem

Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,

Boys, as we sit—

Laughter and wit

Flashing so free.

Life is but short—

When we are gone,

Let them sing on,

Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,

Happy as this;

Faces we miss,

Pleasant to see.

Kind hearts and true,

Gentle and just,

Peace to your dust!

We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,

Lurks at the gate:

Let the dog wait;

Happy we’ll be!

Drink, every one;

Pile up the coals;

Fill the red bowls,

Round the old tree!

Drain we the cup.—

Friend, art afraid?

Spirits are laid

In the Red Sea.

Mantle it up;

Empty it yet;

Let us forget,

Round the old tree.

Sorrows, begone!

Life and its ills,

Duns and their bills,

Bid we to flee.

Come with the dawn,

Blue-devil sprite;

Leave us to-night,

Round the old tree!