The weary Old Year is dead at last;
His corpse ‘mid the ruins of Time is cast,
Where the mouldering wrecks of lost Thought lie,
And the rich-hued blossoms of Passion die
To a withering grass that droops o’er his grave,
The shadowy Titan’s refuge cave.
Strange lights from pale moony Memory lie
On the weedy columns beneath its eye;
And strange is the sound of the ghostlike breeze,
In the lingering leaves on the skeleton trees;
And strange is the sound of the falling shower,
When the clouds of dead pain o’er the spirit lower;
Unheard in the home he inhabiteth,
The land where all lost things are gathered by Death.
Alone I reclined in the closing year;
Voice, nor breathing, nor step was near;
And I said in the weariness of my breast:
Weary Old Year, thou art going to rest;
O weary Old Year, I would I might be
One hour alone in thy dying with thee!
Would thou wert a spirit, whose low lament
Might mix with the sighs from my spirit sent;
For I am weary of man and life;
Weary of restless unchanging strife;
Weary of change that is ever changing;
Weary of thought that is ever ranging,
Ever falling in efforts vain,
Fluttering, upspringing from earth again,
Struggling once more through the darkness to wing
That hangs o’er the birthplace of everything,
And choked yet again in the vapour’s breast,
Sinking once more to a helpless rest.
I am weary of tears that scarce are dry,
Ere their founts are filled as the cloud goes by;
Weary of feelings where each in the throng
Mocks at the rest as they crowd along;
Where Pride over all, like a god on high,
Sits enshrined in his self-complacency;
Where Selfishness crawls, the snake-demon of ill,
The least suspected where busiest still;
Where all things evil and painful entwine,
And all in their hate and their sorrow are mine:
O weary Old Year, I would I might be
One hour by thy dying, to weep with thee!
Peace, the soul’s slumber, was round me shed;
The sleep where thought lives, but its pain is dead;
And my musings led me, a spirit-band,
Through the wide realms of their native land;
Till I stood by the couch of the mighty dying,
A lonely shore in the midnight lying.
He lay as if he had laid him to sleep,
And the stars above him their watch did keep;
And the mournful wind with the dreamy sigh,
The homeless wanderer of the sky,
Was the only attendant whose gentle breath
Soothed him yet on the couch of death;
And the dying waves of the heedless sea
Fell at his feet most listlessly.
But he lay in peace, with his solemn eye
Looking far through the mists of futurity.
A smile gleamed over the death-dew that lay
On his withered cheek as life ebbed away.
A darkness lay on his forehead vast;
But the light of expectancy o’er it was cast,–
A light that shone from the coming day,
Travelling unseen to the East away.
In his cloudy robes that lay shadowing wide,
I stretched myself motionless by his side;
And his eyes with their calm, unimpassioned power,
Soothing my heart like an evening shower,
Led in a spectral, far-billowing train,
The hours of the Past through my spirit again.
There were fears of evil whose stony eyes
Froze joy in its gushing melodies.
Some floated afar on thy tranquil wave,
And the heart looked up from its search for a grave;
While others as guests to the bosom came,
And left its wild children more sorrow, less shame;
For the death-look parts from their chilling brow,
And they bless the heads that before them bow;
And floating away in the far-off gloom.
Thankfulness follows them to their tomb.
There were Hopes that found not a place to rest
Their foot ‘mid the rush of all-ocean’s breast;
And home to the sickening heart flew back,
But changed into sorrows upon their track;
And through the moan of the darkening sea
Bearing no leaf from the olive-tree.
There were joys that looked forth with their maiden eyes,
And smiled, and were gone, with a sad surprise;
And the Love of the Earthly, whose beauteous form
Beckoned me on through sunshine and storm;
But when the bounding heart sprang high,
Meeting her smile with a speechless sigh,
The arms sunk home with a painful start,
Clasping a vacancy to the heart.