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Abram Joseph Ryan

(1838-1886 / USA)

Night After The Picnic


And 'Happy! Happy! Happy!'
Rang the bells of all the hours;
'Shyly! Shyly! Shyly!'
Looked and listened all the flowers;
They were wakened from their slumbers,
By the footsteps of the fair;
And they smiled in their awaking
On the faces gathered there.

'Brightly! Brightly! Brightly!'
Looked the overhanging trees,
For beneath their bending branches
Floated tresses in the breeze.
And they wondered who had wandered
With such voices and so gay;
And their leaflets seemed to whisper
To each other: 'Who are they?'

They were just like little children,
Not a sorrow's shade was there;
And 'Merry! Merry! Merry!'
Rang their laughter thro' the air.
There was not a brow grief-darkened,
Was there there a heart in pain?
But 'Happy! Happy! Happy!'
Came the happy bells' refrain.

When the stately trees were bending
O'er a simple, quiet home,
That looked humble as an altar,
Nestling 'neath a lofty dome;
Thither went they gaily! gaily!
Where their coming was a joy,
Just to pass away together
One long day without alloy.

'Slowly! Slowly! Slowly!'
Melted morning's mist away,
Till the sun, in all its splendor,
Lit the borders of the bay.
'Gladly! Gladly! Gladly!'
Glanced the waters that were gray,
While the wavelets whispered 'Welcome!'
To us all that happy day.

And 'Happy! Happy! Happy!'
Rang the bell in every heart,
And it chimed, 'All day let no one
Think that ye shall ever part.
Go and sip from every moment
Sweets to perfume many years;
Keep your feast, and be too happy
To have thought of any tears.'

There was song with one's soul in it,
And the happy hearts grew still
While they leaned upon the music
Like fair lilies o'er the rill;
Till the notes had softly floated
Into silent seas away
O'er the wavelets, where they listened
While they rocked upon the bay.

And ---- 'Dreamy! Dreamy! Dreamy!'
When the song's sweet life was o'er,
Drooped the eyes that will remember
All its echoes evermore.
And 'Stilly! Stilly! Stilly!'
Beat the hearts of some, I ween,
That can see the unseen mystery
Which a song may strive to screen.

Then 'Gaily! Gaily! Gaily!'
Rang the laughter everywhere,
From the lips that seemed too lightsome
For the sigh of any care.
And the dance went 'Merry! Merry!'
Whilst the feet that tripped along,
Bore the hearts that were as happy
As a wild bird's happy song.

And sweet words with smiles upon them,
Joy-winged, flitted to and fro,
Flushing every face they met with
With the glory of their glow.
Not a brow with cloud upon it --
Not an eye that seemed to know
What a tear is; not a bosom
That had ever nursed a woe.

And how 'Swiftly! Swiftly! Swiftly!'
Like the ripples of a stream,
Did the bright hours chase each other,
Till it all seemed like a dream;
Till it seemed as if no ~Never~
Ever in this world had been,
To o'ercloud the ~brief Forever~,
Shining o'er the happy scene.

Dimly! dimly fell the shadows
Of the tranquil eventide;
But the sound of dance and laughter
Would not die, and had not died;
And still 'Happy! Happy! Happy!'
Rang the voiceless vesper bells
O'er the hearts that were too happy
To remember earth's farewells.

Came the night hours -- faster! faster!
Rose the laughter and the dance,
And the eyes that should look weary
Shone the brighter in their glance:
And they stole from every minute
What no other day could lend --
They were happy! happy! happy!
But the feast must have an end.

'Children, come!' the words were cruel --
'Twas the death sigh of the feast;
And they came, still merry! merry!
At the bidding of the priest,
Who had heard the joy-bells ringing
Round him all the summer day.
'Happy! Happy! Happy! Happy!'
Did he hear an angel say?

'Happy! happy! still more happy!
Yea, the happiest are they.
I was moving 'mid the children
By the borders of the bay,
And I bring to God no record
Of a single sin this day.

'Happy! Happy! Happy!'
When your life seems lone and long,
You will hear that feast's bells ringing
Far and faintly thro' my song.

Submitted: Monday, October 11, 2010

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