1. the Nation's New Year.

by John J. Piatt.
the air takes voices; from the past they rise;
They haunt your sleep — you waken with their cries.
For many a bard's and many a warrior's grave
The imploring hand and voice are lifted, “Save!”
The world is old, and Hope has struggled long;
The patriot's death, the poet's prophet-song,
In vain the world their nobler sense have given,
If the last star a meteor — was in heaven!
In vain blind eyes have seen, great hearts have beat
Consoling victories over old defeat;
In vain have Freedom's martyrs gone to rest,
Smiling from flames, and, dying, whispered, “West.”
In vain your great assembled Congress there,
With the proud scroll in Memory's Sabbath air;
In vain the battle-bloom which wreathes the Past,
That tried men's souls, and found the gleam at last;
In vain the starlit banner of the world
To the wide winds and for all men unfurled;
In vain were Bunker Hill and Concord Plain,
And Yorktown Heights — and Washington in vain,
If the Great Constellation's bond be riven,
And all the Pleiad sisters fall from heaven!
Lo! in the East an awful dream; and lo!
Like a weird painting o'er the life below,
Solemn and calm, with silence in their eyes,
“Congress assembled” --watchers from yon skies!
Above the storm, serene with high reproof,
Sorrow, not anger — silence, shame, and love!
Lo! from your sacred places rise the grand
And haloed guardians of your hallowed land,
Wherever lying, dust in earth, but yet
Voices in council men may ne'er forget.
Webster's calm looks the waves of discord sun;
Words broken rise, “Now and for ever, one!”
And over Ashland's folded sod forever
A spirit rises, “Never! never! never!”

A year ago were writ these pleading words,
While the black skies throbbed full of prophet-birds,
And (wraths world-old, whose maws have no remorse)
Grim vultures wheeling for a nation's corse.
These words, a year ago, I could but deem
The haunting memory of some waking dream.
The year has gone, and God's horizon still
Flames with the unread mystery of his will.
A year has gone; lo! all the winter nights
Crimson around with waiting battle-lights!
About the Christmas hearths vague shadows came;
Close mists of sorrow damp the sparkling flame
For many a household missed its dearest head,
And many a Rachel mourned her children dead;
Our people, looking in the embers low,
Familiar with the ashes, talked with woe.
The angels' song that hailed the mystic birth,
“Glory to God, peace and good — will on earth,”
Though echoed, and the burthen of a prayer,
Weighed the heart's wings, and hope seemed half despair,
Till Christ, perchance, on his dear mission came
Into the fireside's saddened ring of flame,
And soothed the mourners with his whispering,
“Man's cause is mine! Peace and the Sword I bring.”

To-day, flushed morn of greetings, Memory's hands
Warm with new blood, and gathered household bands
Radiant with home's gentle atmosphere--
Muffle the bells that rock the cradled year!
We may not gladden the old holiday
With mirthful words and fancies brightly gay.
'Tis not for Time, and what Time takes, we grieve,
But for the shadows that his pinions leave.
Rise from thy coffin, Eighteen Sixty-One!
Rise from our hearts, with every sunken sun!
Rise with thy awful spirits, Death's and thine,
And sweep the stage like Banquo's ghostly line,
That we, the long procession hushing through,
In camp and cot may hold our still review.
--Nay! rather in thy deep sepulchre lie
Wrapped in the costliest robes of History,
Praised by the poet till the world shall end,
The Year of Man, and Freedom's dearest friend!
For though we trembled at thy coming, and
Felt a great earthquake's footsteps walk the land--
Our land, and man's--'twas God's own footfall broke
Deaf slumbers, on our threshold, and we woke!
We woke, at last! nor woke to hear “Too Late,”
The awful monosyllables of Fate;
We heard thee, Year, a warrior armed for strife,
“I am thy Resurrection and thy Life;”
Then saw thee, a fierce sower, go abroad,
“In bloody furrows drop the seed of God.”
Not when of old the dragon's teeth were sown
For armed men, was swifter harvest grown.
They rose, the Men! one-voiced, one-hearted, one
In a great lighted purpose, like a sun
Of Right in every soul, on every face.
“Who guards our Union, guards the human race!” [2]
The ice grew fire, and left the mountain's crown,
When April's echoes shook the avalanche down.
The awful marches of the People came
Like the volcano's leaping ranks of flame.
They rose, the hot Defenders, swift and strong,
From nightmare dreams that kissed them down so long;
One with a myriad hearts and myriad feet,
From field and fireside, lane and thronged street!
The battle-fires were leaping up as one,
When Baltimore reechoed Lexington!
--Kentucky! though unnerved thy mighty hand,
Till in thy breast had warmed the traitor band,
Thank God! the serpent nursed and nourished there,
Timely thrust forth to bite the winter air,
Poisons no more where it would fain have fed,
And hisses harmless wrath till trampled dead.
Thank God, though late, the righteous cause is thine,
Ready to drink thy cup like festal wine.
Thank God, however dark thy day be found,
Patriots shall sow with flowers the Bloody Ground.
Thank God, for Breckinridge and Buckner's shame;
Crittenden speaks, and Rousseau's sword's aflame;
(And, Prentice!--blame your newsboy!--by the Eternal,
You take the War Department of — the Journal!)
Lo! where they stand, the impious-hearted ones,
Who dare to call themselves Kentucky's sons!
No! the old Mother knows them not; she knows
Her household shame, her fireside's fiercest foes.
Her curse is on them — lo! the Mother saith,
“Scatter my chaff before the cannon's breath!”
--Therefore, O Year, within thy coffin lie,
Wrapped in the costliest robes of History;
Thy soul shall rise in many an after sun,
And Freedom's saviour shall be Sixty-One!

Oh, thou New Shadow of Old Time, we meet
Thee not, embracing on old thresholds sweet;
We meet thee not, as yonder Year we met,
Suppliant, but sentinel with the bayonet.
Time is best friend of those who use him best,
Therefore we do not fear thee, welcome guest.
Thou hearest, here, no words of trembling prayer,
To demon-bands our dearest bonds to spare;
Thou knowest but our righteous will, their doom;
Thou find'st us waiting for the battle-gloom.
The crimson altar of a people burns,
And for the fire, the impatient offering yearns.
What though the mother gives her dearest son;
Though leaves the loving, the beloved one;
Though the wife lingers by the embers' glow,
Or weeps, a widow, in the ashes low;
Though the bare orphan, in the market-place,
Moans at the winter demon's hungry face;
Though the hushed sun, arising flushed and red,
Finds death upon his crimson battle-bed--
Open, dumb cannon-lips, and speak your thought:
“When God remembers man, be men forgot.”

O God, remember! Let our battle be
True to mankind, and therefore true to Thee!
If 'tis no selfish hate or pride that now
Flames in the heart and frowns upon the brow;
If the Great Sacrifice our Land shall give
Through thy red Priest, be that our Land shall live
Worthier, remember us. Our lips are dumb,
Unless strong faith, thy word of life, may come.
O give us faith to feel our cause is just,
In thy own breath, the Right, our right hands trust.
O give us strength to fight the battle through;
The victory thine, our blood the crimson dew;
Let the great wrath which stains the skies above,
Be but the dawning of the Day of Love;
And may this year our Nation's New Year be,
With light for man, and endless praise for Thee!

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