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But no one cares for Gretchen, and no one looketh forth. Within those dark, damp houses are merry faces bright, And happy hearts are watching out the old year's latest

night. The board is spread with plenty where the smiling

kindred meet, But the frost is on the pavement and the beggar's

in the street.

With the little box of matches she could not sell all day, And the thin, thin tattered mantle the wind blows

every way, She clingeth to the railing, she shivers in the gloom, – There are parents sitting snugly by the firelight in the

room ; And children with grave faces are whispering one

another Of presents for the New Year, for father or for mother. But no one talks to Gretchen, and no one hears her


No breath of little whispers comes warmly to her cheek. No little arms are round her; ah me! that there should

be, With so much happiness on earth, so much of misery! Sure they of many blessings should scatter blessings

round, As laden boughs in autumn fling their ripe fruits to the

ground; And the best love man can offer to the God of love, be


Is kindness to his little ones, and bounty to his poor. Little Gretchen, little Gretchen goes coldly on her way; There's no one looketh out at her, there's no one bids

her stay.

Her home is cold and desolate; no smile, no food, no

fire, But children clamorous for bread, and an impatient sire. So she sits down in an angle where two great houses

meet, And she curleth up beneath her, for warmth, her little

feet; And she looketh on the cold wall, and on the colder sky, And wonders if the little stars are bright fires up on

high. She hears a clock strike slowly, up in a far church

tower, With such a sad and solemn tone, telling the midnight


And she remembered her of tales her mother used to tell, And of the cradle-songs she sang, when summer's twi

light fell; Of good men and of angels, and of the Holy Child, Who was cradled in a manger, when winter was most

wild ; Who was poor, and cold, and hungry, and desolate and


And she thought the song had told he was ever with

his own;

And all the poor and hungry and forsaken ones are

his, “ How good of him to look on me in such a place as

this !”

Colder it grows, and colder, but she does not feel it now,

, For the pressure at her heart, and the weight upon her


But she struck one little match on the wall so cold and

bare, That she might look around her, and see if He were

there. The single match has kindled, and by the light it threw It seemed to little Gretchen the wall was rent in two; And she could see the room within, the room all warm

and bright, With the fire-glow, red and dusky, and the tapers all

alight. And there were kindred seated at a table richly spread With heaps of goodly viands, red wine and pleasant


She could smell the fragrant savor, she could hear what

they did say, Then all was darkness once again, the match had

burned away She struck another hastily, and now she seemed to see, Within the same warm chamber, a glorious Christmas

tree. The branches were all laden with things that children


Bright gifts for boy and maiden,- she saw them with

her eyes.

And she almost seemed to touch them and to hear the

welcome shout, When darkness fell around her, for the little match was


Another, yet another she tried — they would not light, Till all her little store she took, and struck with all her

might; And the whole miserable place was lighted with the

glare, And lo! there stood a little child before her in the air. There were blood-drops on his forehead, a spear-wound

in his side, And cruel nail-prints in his feet, and in his hands spread


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And he looked upon her gently, and she felt that he had

known Pain, hunger, cold, and sorrow — ay, equal to her own. And he pointed to the laden board and to the Christmas

tree, Then up to the cold sky, and said, “ Will Gretchen come

with me?The poor child felt her pulses fail, she felt her eyeballs

swim, A ringing sound was in her ears, like her dead mother's

hymn; And she folded both her thin white hands, and turned

from that bright board

And from the golden gifts, and said, “ With thee, with

thee, O Lord !” The chilly winter morning breaks up in the dull skies On the city wrapped in vapor, on the spot where

Gretchen lies.

In her scant and tattered garments, with her back

against the wall, She sitteth cold and rigid, she answers to no call. They have lifted her up fearfully, they shuddered as

they said, “It was a bitter, bitter night! the child is frozen dead!” The angels sang their greeting to one more redeemed

from sin; Men said, “It was a bitter night: would no one take

her in ?And they shivered as they spoke of her, and sighed;

they could not see How much of happiness there was with so much




Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin ;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied ;

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