Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR.

Written at Cambridge, September 17, 1839, and published in the Knickerbocker, October, 1839, as The Fifth Psalm ; the author also calls it in his Diary An Autumnal Chant.

YES, the Year is growing old,

And his eye is pale and bleared !
Death, with frosty hand and cold,
Plucks the old man by the beard,

Sorely, sorely!

The leaves are falling, falling,

Solemnly and slow;
Caw! caw! the rooks are calling,
It is a sound of woe,

A sound of woe!

Through woods and mountain passes

The winds, like anthems, roll;
They are chanting solemn masses,
Singing, “ Pray for this poor soul,

Pray, pray!”

And the hooded clouds, like friars,

Tell their beads in drops of rain,
And patter their doleful prayers ;
But their prayers are all in vain,

All in vain !

There he stands in the foul weather,

The foolish, fond Old Year,
Crowned with wild flowers and with heather,
Like weak, despised Lear,

A king, a king!

MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR 33

Then comes the summer-like day,

Bids the old man rejoice!
His joy ! his last! Oh, the old man gray
Loveth that ever-soft voice,

Gentle and low.

To the crimson woods he saith,

To the voice gentle and low
Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath,
Pray do not mock me so !

Do not laugh at me!”

And now the sweet day is dead;

Cold in his arms it lies;
No stain from its breath is spread
Over the glassy skies,

No mist or stain !

Then, too, the Old Year dieth,

And the forests utter a moan,
Like the voice of one who crieth
In the wilderness alone,

" Vex not his ghost!”

Then comes, with an awful roar,

Gathering and sounding on,
The storm-wind from Labrador,
The wind Euroclydon,

The storm-wind!

Howl ! howl! and from the forest

Sweep the red leaves away!

Line 4. Loveth her ever-soft voice,
Line 7. And the voice gentle and low
Line 15. No mist nor stain !

Would, the sins that thou abhorrest, O soul! could thus decay,

And be swept away!

For there shall come a mightier blast,

There shall be a darker day;
And the stars, from heaven down-cast
Like red leaves be swept away!

Kyrie, eleyson!
Christe, eleyson!

EARLIER POEMS

“These poems were written for the most part during my college life, and all of them before the age of nineteen. Some have found their way into schools, and seem to be successful. Others lead a vagabond and precarious existence in the corners of newspapers; or have changed their names and run away to seek their fortunes beyond the sea. Ι say,

with the Bishop of Avranches on a similar occasion: 'I cannot be displeased to see these children of mine, which I have neglected, and almost exposed, brought from their wanderings in lanes and alleys, and safely lodged, in order to go forth into the world together in a more decorous garb.' This note was prefixed by Mr. Longfellow to the following group of poems when published in Voices of the Night. The same collection was retained in subsequent editions with only slight textual variation. The forms given in the foot-notes are those of the edition of 1839. In the appendix will be found a fuller collection of poems of this class. " The first five” of the following, Mr. Longfellow says elsewhere in a manuscript note,

were written during my last year in college, in No. 27 Maine Hall, whose windows looked out upon the pine groves to which allusion is made in L'Envoi." These five poems were first published in the United States Literary Gazette, 1824-1825.

AN APRIL DAY.

WHEN the warm sun, that brings Seed-time and harvest, has returned again, 'T is sweet to visit the still wood, where springs

The first flower of the plain.

I love the season well, When forest glades are teeming with bright

forms,

Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell

The coming-on of storms.

From the earth's loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives ;
Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold,

The drooping tree revives.

The softly-warbled song Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along

The forest openings.

When the bright sunset fills The silver woods with light, the green slope throws Its shadows in the hollows of the hills,

And wide the upland glows.

And when the eve is born,
In the blue lake the sky, o'er-reaching far,
Is hollowed out, and the moon dips her horn,

And twinkles many a star.

Inverted in the tide Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw, And the fair trees look over, side by side,

And see themselves below.

Sweet April! many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed ;
Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought,

Life's golden fruit is shed.

Line 8. Comes through the pleasant woods, and colored wings
Line 11. And when bright sunset fills

« НазадПродовжити »