Child Jesus, there you are; after the long days of our grieving you have come down to us again.
I have been longing for you like a child; because I am a child myself even though my hairs are all gone grey.
And now I can hear your warm breath making the twigs rustle and the fairy lights flicker on the holy Christmas tree.
O, let me greet you, you Child from Heaven, as your sun‑filled little eye‑eens* shine through the gloom of the fog that never lifts from this vale of tears.
I want to hug you into my heart because I am so frightened that the burning flames of human passions will scorch all your curly hair away. You are more used to the gentle breezes of the never‑ending springtime, O Child from God, and isn’t everything all so lovely, up there in your heavenly home!
I often hear something in the wind as if some sound, some voice, was calling me from on high.
Then I am filled with a longing for home and, like a child gone astray in the night, I cry out and try to find the road to the dwelling places of God.
Tell me now, please tell me, you wonderful Messenger from Heaven, what your Father, the eternal Lord, is really up to?
Im now on the point of becoming very much afraid that your Father has forgotten us, because, just like the sunshine when a thunderstorm comes, I can see that everything that is divine is vanishing from the earth.
We have lost the joy that being upright brings as well as the true meaning of happiness.
Human activities are debased and children’s hearts are warped.
If you, my sweet, my holy Christ, were not sent to come among us from time to time, the path between Heaven and earth would have become completely wild and overgrown by now.
And I do long so deeply for a message from above about all our own dear ones who have left us and about what they are doing in the land of everlasting love.
As for my own dear mother, she must have got there some time ago by now on her pain‑filled crutches.
‘Tis true, though, that she was almost blind, but still I am sure of this, she never did get lost along the way.
How is she getting on? Does she still sing those old happy-go-lucky songs?
How the angels must be listening in and laughing! O, what fun it used to be for us when she was telling her stories and singing her songs so long ago! But she used to stay kind of serious herself always — she was like someone completely deaf to it all — and, I have to tell you this now, she never really seemed to hear her own cheery songs and stories.
And now I’ve got one more thing to ask you about: do you have a sick child in Heaven?
If my mother can’t be nursing someone who is sick, if she can’t be staying awake at night and worrying and hardly eating a thing herself, she’s not going to be all that happy.
I’m sure she is by now, though.
So, could you tell her, please, that here on earth she now has dear little grandchildren, the very ones who today, o Christ Child, are frolicking around your gleaming little tree. And tell my mother that we all send her our regards!
Then you too, O Holy Child, will meet a lady, young as the May, lovely as an angel. You will find it hard to believe that she was born here on this earth.
You will find her in the company of the happiest, the truest and the most self‑sacrificing of souls.
You will smile, my Christ Child, as you look at her soaring in her white myrtle‑wreathed dress.
Her face will be so gentle, like a cherry blossom, because that’s how she will be, and her eyes will be soft and so deep. Will her husband and her child be playing in them still?
For that’s how you will meet her in the Kingdom of Heaven: she will be wandering alone among the silent groves and shell be waiting.
Because it is only when her husband and her children are there with her that she’ll be happy enough to enter into bliss.
When you get back home, O Divine Child, that lady will ask you, with a tear in her smile, what it was really like when you set up your tree before the jubilant children in her forlorn house.
O, you must tell her about how fresh and new is the joy of life, that joy that has so faded in us old ones, as it flowers again in those young souls.
And tell her how delighted I really am with those little ones of hers, tell her how warmly I thank her!
But, about how I have to cry again and again (for tears are the messengers of love), please don’t tell her about that at all.
By Peter Rosegger (Austria) 1843 – 1918.
As I could find nothing in standard English to convey the warm intimacy of the German ‘Äugelein’ I had to fall
back on my mother tongue — the English of the Macroom area of County Cork.
My late mother used the ending ‒een’ (Irish Gaelic suffix ‘ín’ = ‘small, dear, little’) to express her warm affection for things:
‘boyeen’, ‘girleen’, ‘handeen’, ‘fingereen’, ‘peteen’, ‘penguineen’, ‘calf‑een’ etc.
Putting in the word ‘little’ helped to convey even more of the warmth and tenderness of the original.
Note that, as in ‘smithereen’, the stress is on ‘‑een’.
Translation: Barry Tobin, November 2003.
Auf Deutsch / In German
A Christmas Eve in Austria
(Christmas shopping in 1855 as remembered by Peter Rosegger)
The Burial of my Mother
German in Cardiff
Links to German