by Celia Thaxter
In the far-off land of Norway,
Where the winter lingers late,
And long for the singing-birds and flowers
The little children wait;
When at last the summer ripens
And the harvest is gathered in,
And food for the bleak, drear days to come
The toiling people win;
Through all the land the children
In the golden fields remain
Till their busy little hands have gleaned
A generous sheaf of grain;
All the stalks by the reapers forgotten
They glean to the very least,
To save till the cold December,
For the sparrows' Christmas feast.
And then through the frost-locked country
There happens a wonderful thing:
The sparrows flock north, south, east, west,
For the children's offering.
Of a sudden, the day before Christmas,
The twittering crowds arrive,
And the bitter, wintry air at once
With their chirping is all alive.
They perch upon roof and gable,
On porch and fence and tree,
They flutter about the windows
And peer in curiously.
And meet the eyes of the children,
Who eagerly look out
With cheeks that bloom like roses red,
And greet them with welcoming shout.
On the joyous Christmas morning,
In front of every door
A tall pole, crowned with clustering grain,
Is set the birds before.
And which are the happiest, truly
It would be hard to tell;
The sparrows who share in the Christmas cheer,
Or the children who love them well!
How sweet that they should remember,
With faith so full and sure,
That the children's bounty awaited them
The whole wide country o'er!
When this pretty story was told me
By one who had helped to rear
The rustling grain for the merry birds
In Norway, many a year
I thought that our little children
Would like to know it too,
It seems to me so beautiful
So blessed a thing to do,
To make God's innocent creatures see
In every child a friend,
And on our faithful kindness
So fearlessly depend.
Source:Poems For Children
Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston
Illustrator: Miss A. G. Plymptom