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Short poem

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

The Mahogany Tree

              1Christmas is here:
              2Winds whistle shrill,
              3Icy and chill,
              4Little care we:
              5Little we fear
              6Weather without,
              7Shelter about
              8The Mahogany Tree.

              9Once on the boughs
            10Birds of rare plume
            11Sang, in its bloom;
            12Night-birds are we:
            13Here we carouse,
            14Singing like them,
            15Perched round the stem
            16Of the jolly old tree.

            17Here let us sport,
            18Boys, as we sit;
            19Laughter and wit
            20Flashing so free.
            21Life is but short --
            22When we are gone,
            23Let them sing on
            24Round the old tree.

            25Evenings we knew,
            26Happy as this;
            27Faces we miss,
            28Pleasant to see.
            29Kind hearts and true,
            30Gentle and just,
            31Peace to your dust!
            32We sing round the tree.

            33Care, like a dun,
            34Lurks at the gate:
            35Let the dog wait;
            36Happy we'll be!
            37Drink, every one;
            38Pile up the coals,
            39Fill the red bowls,
            40Round the old tree!

            41Drain we the cup. --
            42Friend, art afraid?
            43Spirits are laid
            44In the Red Sea.
            45Mantle it up;
            46Empty it yet;
            47Let us forget,
            48Round the old tree.

            49Sorrows, begone!
            50Life and its ills,
            51Duns and their bills,
            52Bid we to flee.
            53Come with the dawn,
            54Blue-devil sprite,
            55Leave us to-night,
            56Round the old tree.


1] Mahogany, a wood imported to England from the Americas, was used for fine furniture, especially the dining table, which became known popularly as "the Mahogany tree." Mahogany was also the name of an alcoholic drink, such as gin and treacle, or brandy and water.

33] dun: debt-collector.

45] Mantle: perhaps fill up the cup so that a mantle or "head" forms.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Complete Poems of W. M. Thackeray (New York: White, Stokes, and Allen, 1883): 52-54. PR 5602 W5 Robarts Library.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/24

Rhyme: abbcaddc

Other poems by William Makepeace Thackeray