Christmas Carol, Sara Teasdale: Summary & Analysis

"Christmas Carol" by Sara Teasdale captures the essence of the nativity story, portraying the arrival of various figures to pay homage to the newborn Jesus. The poem's simplicity and imagery evoke the awe and reverence associated with the Christmas narrative, emphasizing the diverse group of visitors who came to honor the infant.

Christmas Carol

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.

The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs—
They had not any gold.

The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.

The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.

The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.

The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.
Christmas Carol

Critical Analysis

"Christmas Carol" by Sara Teasdale encapsulates the significance of the nativity story, depicting the arrival of different groups to honor the newborn Jesus. The poem highlights the diversity of visitors who converged to pay homage, emphasizing the humble and diverse nature of those who recognized the miraculous event.

The three stanzas each focus on different groups of visitors—the kings, the shepherds, and the wise men. The kings are depicted as regal figures bearing precious gifts, while the shepherds arrive with the simplicity of their brown coats and new-born lambs. The wise men, wrapped in white, are guided by the star's brilliance.

The inclusion of angels in the narrative adds a celestial dimension to the scene. Their arrival from "heaven high" and their joyful song elevate the moment, underscoring the divine significance of the birth.

The poem concludes with the various groups entering and encountering the holy scene, symbolizing the unity in worship despite their differing backgrounds. The angels' song continues through the night, yet the final line, "But little Jesus fell asleep / Before the song was done," conveys a sense of tranquility and the serenity of the moment.

"Christmas Carol" beautifully captures the essence of the nativity, emphasizing the diverse array of characters who converged to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the sense of peace and awe that permeated the scene.


"Christmas Carol" by Sara Teasdale portrays the nativity scene, focusing on the arrival of kings, shepherds, wise men, and angels to honor the newborn Jesus. The poem highlights the diversity of characters and their expressions of reverence, while the final lines convey the tranquil atmosphere surrounding the holy event.

Themes of the Poem

  • Unity and Diversity: The poem emphasizes the unity in worship as various groups from different backgrounds gather to pay homage to the newborn Jesus.
  • Divine Significance: The presence of angels and the celestial aspects of the scene underscore the divine significance of the birth.
  • Humility and Reverence: The shepherds' and wise men's humble offerings contrast with the kings' grand gifts, highlighting the simplicity and sincerity of their reverence.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Imagery: The poem's vivid imagery paints a picture of the nativity scene, with descriptions of the visitors' appearances and their offerings.
  • Parallel Structure: The poem's structure of presenting each group's arrival in separate stanzas with similar wording creates a rhythmic and symmetrical flow.


  • Awe and Reverence: The poem evokes a sense of awe and reverence through its descriptions of the visitors' gestures and the celestial presence of angels.
  • Peace and Tranquility: The final lines suggest a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere as Jesus falls asleep amidst the angels' song.


  • Symbolism: The use of symbolic elements like the kings' gifts, the shepherds' lambs, and the angels' song contributes to the poem's deeper meaning.
  • Word Choice: The poet's choice of words, such as "glorify," "joyful," and "serene," enhances the emotional resonance of the scene.

Sound Devices

  • Rhyme Scheme: The consistent rhyme scheme in each stanza contributes to the poem's rhythmic flow, reinforcing the sense of unity and harmony.
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