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Where Poverty, so gaunt and worn,
Sits ever waiting and forlorn;
Where no strange perfumes fill the gloom;
Where no buds tremble into bloom;
Where no songs ring, but tears and sighs;
And little children's hungry cries
Make terrible the echoes there,
Already burdened with despair;
Where mothers, mad with woes like these,
Watch their young children starve and freeze,
And pray that Death would bear them far
To realms beyond the morning star;
Where, in the heavenly courts above,
Their voices, loud in songs of love,
By grief and woe no more controlled,
Will say no longer, “I am cold!”
“O wonder strange!” the old man cries,
“A riddle for the learned and wise,
That for the lack of bread and wine,
God's image, likeness so divine,
Should find on this broad earth He gave,
His only heritage — a grave!
The sick pray loud with fast-closed palms,
For added wealth and soothing balms--
They drink rare wines from cups of gold,
And yet their neighbor dies of cold!
Oh! when will Charity anointed be?
Greatest of all the blessings three!”
The old man's words are faint and low--
His failing voice is trembling so--
And mystic names and low sweet calls
Drop from his lips at intervals,
As if some long-forgotten thought
Stirred in its channels all unsought.
How pale he seems — oh! very pale;
How suddenly his pulses fail!
But, more distinct these last words come
From lips fast growing white and dumb:
“Though death and darkness o'er me fall,
God's blessing shineth over all!”
What ho, without! bring in your shroud and pall,
And cover up the glare of these dead eyes!
Fold closely o'er the breast the meek, still hands,
And scatter incense where the pale corpse lies;
And as you carry out your precious dead,
Soft let the censer o'er him swing and wave,
And lay him where the flowers will soonest bloom
In fragrant beauty, o'er the Old Year's grave.
With joyful peals of melody and song,
The blessed chimes ring out, with sudden start;
Alike on high and low their music falls,
And some sweet promise bear to every heart;
Some precious hope they breathe of wrongs redressed,
Of sunbeams that shall lighten sorrow's glooms;
Of violets that yet may blush and grow,
In modest fragrance, o'er some barren tomb.
O New Year! radiant One!
Come with the trembling of the morning light
Through the vast portals, glittering and white,
That open to the Sun,
And glorious in the promise of thy youth
Scatter the seeds of light and truth!
Oh! let thy coming prove
A resurrection to our buried hopes,
That we may raise again on sun-barred slopes
The altars of our love,
And the quenched fires revive, though spent and cold,
With offerings manifold.
Oh! glide on, snowy ships,
Down the broad rivers reaching to the sea;
And bear a message to the bond and free:
That the long-mourned eclipse
Of peace shall with thy dawning pass away,
Ne'er to resume its sway.
And as (foreshadowed fate!)
The blessed Saviour came upon the earth
To bring the promise of a second birth
To man regenerate;
So, like a bow of promise, wilt thou rise,
Within our troubled skies!
O happy New Year! go
From lands of shade to lands of sun
And count thy victory duly won
If tears have ceased to flow,
And mourners shout from bloody graves that yawned:
“A better day hath dawned!”
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