African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

William Stanley Braithwaite, "Holly Berry and Mistletoe: Lyrics" (1901)


THE trees are bare, wild flies the snow,
   Hearths are glowing, hearts are merry —
High in the air is the Mistletoe,
   Over the door is the Holly Berry.

Never have care how the winds may blow,
   Never confess the revel grows weary —
Yule is the time of the Mistletoe,
   Yule is the time of the Holly Berry.


Come trip a measure,
Let the heart be gay,
Yule grants a pleasure
None can say us nay.
Let the song be merry ,
Be it fast or slow
Hope is in the Holly -Berry,
And Love in the Mistletoe .

Of the year, the sadness
'Tis we rememberNow is time for gladness
Here in December .
High may drift the snow ,
Winds may lift and carry—
But Love comes with the Mistletoe ,
And Hope with the Holly -Berry.


What makes the house so quiet today ?
Children , you really must go and play .
This is the time for holly and joys,-
Here, my pets , are your books and toys .

See , papa will blow your new horn , Ned
And shall he read a tale from your book, Fred?
And baby can rattle here on my knee
No? Won't take to my terms for a spree?

Mary, my little woman, my dear,
Come ... child be brave , brush away that tear
...Oh God ! my darlings how can we be gay,
And this, Mother's first Christmas away!


A large bright Star came out of the East-the mystic East ,
And o'er a city shone, where men were gay with wine and feast ;
Shawms were sounded , and maidens made the lutes sweet with song,
And a cry for the King went forth from the heart of the throng .
Dancers performed for the guests with jewelled ankles and ears ,
And the riotous deep applause went forth sounding the doom of years.

A large bright Star came out of the East-the mystic East !
And shone on two who walked away from the noise of the feast .
On the hill-side the weary two , to a stable made their way ,
To share with kine the chilly place till comes the break of day .
The woman dreamed in her sleep that night , woke in pain and smiled
The dream was but the light of a Star, the coo of a little child .


December comes , snows come ,
   Comes the wintry weather ;
Faces from away come
   Hearts , must be together .
      Down the stair - steps of the hours
      Yule leaps the hills and towers-
--Fill the bowl and hang the holly,
   Let the times be jolly.

Day comes , and night comes
   And the guests assemble
Once again the old dream comes
   That I would dissemble.
      Falls a shadow 'cross the floor ,
       Seen !-and is seen no more.
O that mem'ry would forego
   The hanging of the Mistletoe .

Published in Colored American Magazine, December 1901
Portions also published in Lyrics of Love and Laughter, 1904

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