Gateway to the Classics: Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by Arthur Quiller-Couch
Oxford Book of English Verse, Part 1 by  Arthur Quiller-Couch


From a manuscript housed
at Christ Church, Oxford

Yet if His Majesty, our sovereign lord,

Should of his own accord

Friendly himself invite,

And say "I'll be your guest to-morrow night,"

How should we stir ourselves, call and command

All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand!"

"Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall;

See they be fitted all;

Let there be room to eat

And order taken that there want no meat.

See every sconce and candlestick made bright,

That without tapers they may give a light.

"Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,

The dazie o'er the head,

The cushions in the chairs,

And all the candles lighted on the stairs?

Perfume the chambers, and in any case

Let each man give attendance in his place!"

Thus, if a king were coming, would we do;

And 'twere good reason too;

For 'tis a duteous thing

To show all honour to an earthly king,

And after all our travail and our cost,

So he be pleased, to think no labour lost.

But at the coming of the King of Heaven

All's set at six and seven;

We wallow in our sin,

Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.

We entertain Him always like a stranger,

And, as at first, still lodge Him in the manger.

— Anonymous
17th century   

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