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Victor James Daley

(5 September 1858 – 29 December 1905 / Navan, County Armagh, Ireland)

A Christmas Eve


GOOD fellows are laughing and drinking
(To-night no heart should grieve),
But I am of old days thinking,
Alone, on Christmas Eve.
Old memories fast are springing
To life again; old rhymes
Once more in my brain are ringing—
Ah, God be with old times!
There never was man so lonely
But ghosts walked him beside,
For Death our spirits can only
By veils of sense divide.
Numberless as the blades of
Grass in the fields that grow,
Around us hover the shades of
The dead of long ago.

Friends living a word estranges;
We smile, and we say “Adieu!”
But, whatsoever else changes,
Dead friends are faithful and true.
An old-time tune, or a flower,
The simplest thing held dear
In bygone days has the power
Once more to bring them near.

And whether it be through thinking
Of memories sad and sweet,
Or hearing the cheery clinking
Of glasses across the street,
I know not; but this is certain
That, here in the dusk, I view
Like shadows seen through a curtain,
The shades of the friends I knew.

Methinks that I hear their laughter—
An echo of ghostly mirth,
As if in the dim Hereafter
They jest as they did on earth.
The fancy possibly droll is,
And yet it relieves my mind
To think the enfranchised soul is
So humorously inclined.

But hark! whose steps in the glancing
Moonbeams are these I hear,
That sound as if timed to dancing
Music of gallant cheer!
Half Galahad, half Don Juan,
His head full of wild romance;
’Twas thus that of old would Spruhan
Come lilting, “We met by chance.”

Sure never a spirit lighter
At heart quaffed mountain dew;
Never was goblin brighter
That Oberon’s kingdom knew.
And though at this season yearly
I miss the grasp of his hand,
I know that Spruhan has merely
Gone back to Fairyland.

. . . . .
The shades grow dimmer and dimmer,
And now they fade from view,
I see in the East the glimmer
Of dawn. Old friends, adieu!
Sitting here, lonely hearted,
Writing these random rhymes.
I drink to the days departed,—
Ah, God be with old times!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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