Theodore Watts-Dunton

(1832-1914 / England)

Wassail Chorus At The Mermaid Tavern - Poem by Theodore Watts-Dunton

CHRISTMAS knows a merry, merry place,
   Where he goes with fondest face,
   Brightest eye, brightest hair:
Tell the Mermaid where is that one place,
   Where?

Raleigh. 'Tis by Devon's glorious halls,
   Whence, dear Ben, I come again:
Bright of golden roofs and walls--
   El Dorado's rare domain--

   Seem those halls when sunlight launches
   Shafts of gold thro' leafless branches,
Where the winter's feathery mantle blanches
   Field and farm and lane.

CHORUS. Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c.

Drayton. 'Tis where Avon's wood-sprites weave
   Through the boughs a lace of rime,
   While the bells of Christmas Eve
   Fling for Will the Stratford-chime
   O'er the river-flags emboss'd
   Rich with flowery runes of frost--
O'er the meads where snowy tufts are toss'd--
   Strains of olden time.

CHORUS. Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c.

Shakespeare's Friend. 'Tis, methinks, on any ground
   Where our Shakespeare's feet are set.
   There smiles Christmas, holly-crown'd
   With his blithest coronet:
   Friendship's face he loveth well:
   'Tis a countenance whose spell
Sheds a balm o'er every mead and dell
   Where we used to fret.

CHORUS. Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c.

Heywood. More than all the pictures, Ben,
   Winter weaves by wood or stream,
Christmas loves our London, when
   Rise thy clouds of wassail-steam--
   Clouds like these, that, curling, take
   Forms of faces gone, and wake
Many a lay from lips we loved, and make
   London like a dream.

CHORUS. Christmas knows a merry, merry place, &c.

Ben Jonson. Love's old songs shall never die,
   Yet the new shall suffer proof:
   Love's old drink of Yule brew I
   Wassail for new love's behoof.
   Drink the drink I brew, and sing
   Till the berried branches swing,
Till our song make all the Mermaid ring--
   Yea, from rush to roof.

FINALE. Christmas loves this merry, merry place;
   Christmas saith with fondest face,
   Brightest eye, brightest hair:
'Ben, the drink tastes rare of sack and mace:
   Rare!'


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Read poems about / on: christmas, london, winter, hair, river, song, friend, dream, rose, smile



Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 4, 2003



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