Time to Remember

Edwin Waugh (1817-90) was known as the Lancashire laureate and is best remembered for his dialect verse. His poem “Now’s the Time to Remember the Poor” is a version of a song found widely in the British Isles and still sung in the folk tradition. An ideal sentiment in these days of consumerism and greed.

Now’s the Time to Remember the Poor.

(To an old English melody.)


FROM my warm ingle-cheek, on a keen winter’s day,
When the woods and the fields were forlorn,
I could see the white slopes where the snow-mantle lay,
I could hear the cold blast in the thorn;
And as wild by my window the thick-falling snow
Drifted by on the wintry wind,
It threw a cold gloom o’er my snug shelter’s glow,
And it saddened the thoughts of my mind.


Then a pretty bird came to my lattice to sing,
And he peeped through the storm at my nest;
The cold drift lay white on his trembling wing,
And it powdered his bonny red breast:
His little eye shone through my dim window pane,
As I paced o’er the soft warm floor;
And the sweet minstrel’s song had this tender refrain,
“Now’s the time to remember the poor!”


Then I crept to my hearthstone, so cosy and bright,
Which the rage of the tempest defied,
And I pensively mused on the shelterless wight
That was wand’ring and shiv’ring outside;
And I thought, with a sigh, of the hardship and pain
Which the houseless and old endure;
And I said, as I looked through my window again,
“Now’s the time to remember the poor!”


How little we dream when we’re sheltered and glad,
Whilst the cold blasts of winter are keen,
Of the poor and the lonely, the sick and the sad,
That are mourning in corners unseen:
But this life it is short, both to high and to low,
And there’s nought in the world that’s sure;
We were bare when we came here, and bare we must go—
“Now’s the time to remember the poor!”

Happy Christmas

Nativity Grotto Star, Bethlehem

Image from Bethlehem’s Grotto of the Nativity by Andrew Quernmore.