Have I saved the best for last? Depends how much you like Milton I suppose. I like his poem “On the Morning of Christ's Nativity” chiefly because it is so far a cry from plastic gyrating Santas and erratic lurid lights entwined about inane scenes of snowy European twee. Milton's heavenly muse is at work here, as in Paradise Lost, to lend grandeur, gravitas, mystery, and even fantasy to the familiar story. Instead of a humble, homely tale, the nativity here is a matter of thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers. The stage is cosmic, the event cataclysmic. The characters are kings and their squadrons, wizards and ancient sages. The birth of Christ is a sacred and solemn compact among the hosts of heaven. It's only four stanzas, but it feels like an epic.
This is the month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the heav'n, by the Sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.