The damsel donned her kirtle sheen; The hall was dressed with holly green; Forth to the wood did merry-men go To gather in the mistletoe. Then opened wide the baron's hall To vassal, tenant, serf, and all; Power laid his rod of rule aside, And ceremony doffed his pride. The heir, with roses in his shoes, That night might village partner choose;
The lord underogating share The vulgar game of post-and-pair. All hailed with uncontrolled delight And general voice, the happy night, That to the cottage as the crown Brought tidings of salvation down. The fire with well-dried logs supplied Went roaring up the chimney wide; The huge hall-table's oaken face, Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace, Bore then upon its massive board No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn By old blue-coated serving-man; Then the grim boar's head frowned on high, Crested with bay and rosemary. Well can the green-garbed ranger tell How, when, and where the monster fell; What dogs before his death he tore, And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round, in good brown bowls, Garnished with ribbons blithely trowls. There the huge sirloin reeked; hard by Plum-porridge stood and Christmas-pie; Nor failed old Scotland to produce At such high tide her savory goose. Then came the merry masquers in And carols roared with blithesome din; If unmelodious was the song, It was a hearty note and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see Traces of ancient mystery. While shirts supplied the masquerade, And smutted cheeks the visors made: But, oh! what masquers richly dight Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England when Old Christmas brought his sports again. 'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale, 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale; A Christmas gambol oft would cheer The poor man's heart through half the year.