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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 !
The leaves are falling, falling,
Solemnly and slow;
A sound of woe!
Through woods and mountain passes
The winds, like anthems, roll;
And the hooded clouds, like friars,
Tell their beads in drops of rain,
All in vain !
There he stands in the foul weather,
The foolish, fond Old Year,
A king, a king!
MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR 33
Then comes the summer-like day,
Bids the old man rejoice!
Gentle and low.
To the crimson woods he saith,
To the voice gentle and low
Do not laugh at me!”
And now the sweet day is dead;
Cold in his arms it lies;
No mist or stain !
Then, too, the Old Year dieth,
And the forests utter a moan,
" Vex not his ghost!”
Then comes, with an awful roar,
Gathering and sounding on,
Howl ! howl! and from the forest
Sweep the red leaves away!
Line 4. Loveth her ever-soft voice,
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;
“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
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
The coming-on of storms.
From the earth's loosened mould
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,
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
Life's golden fruit is shed.
Line 8. Comes through the pleasant woods, and colored wings