Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch
The Dying Year - Poem by Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch
The sunny Summer days have fled,
And passed is Autumn's changeful cheer,
And Winter's blasts around us shed
The tokens of the Dying Year.
'The Dying Year!' Oh many a spell
In those brief words hath memory laid;
Of joy those simple accents tell-
But joy o'ercast by sorrow's shade.
For oh, how many a hope that smiled
Bright in the year's first opening ray,
Has left the heart it then beguiled
To darkness and to grief a prey.
As the swift months their course have trod,
How many a youth, in life's gay bloom,
Has heard the mandate of his God,
The summons to an early tomb.
The infant, when the year was new,
In bright and sinless beauty shone.
Like some frail drop of glittering dew,
That infant smiled;- like that, 'tis gone.
And manhood's stately head hath bowed,
And female grace in slumber lies;
Yet through bereavement's darkest cloud
Faith sees the light of heaven arise.
Thus passes life; but not alone
Does sorrow claim the parting year;
Full many a joy its hours have known,
The earnest of a brighter sphere.
Such joy has thrilled the lover's breast,
At the dear word, half said, half sighed,
When to a faithful heart he pressed
His own betrothed, his blushing bride.
And such the father's hour of bliss
When first he owned a father's name,
With fond affection's hallowed kiss
Answering his infant's tender claim.
Such hours have been; nor these alone,
Thou passing year, thy course have filled;
For themes of rapture all thine own
The patriot's grateful breast have thrilled.
Who can forget, how darkly rose,
In doubt and fear, thy earlier day?
Who fail to bless the power that throws
On thy decline a peaceful ray?
High swelled dissension's maddening cry;
And listening with prophetic fear,
In every breeze that wandered by
We seemed the clash of steel to hear.
We saw, in fancy's visions wild,
Our land's best blood in slaughter poured;
The mother clasp her orphan child,
And curse a brother's guilty sword.
Then rung each rival battle cry,
The dirge of peace, and law, and right;
And rival standards lit the sky,
The beacons of the stormy fight.
The vision passed. The hill, the vale,
In peace and freedom joyful lie;
And gently floats upon the gale
The hum of tranquil industry.
And still, bright flag! our fathers' pride!
Thy old heroic place is thine.
On castled height, and foaming tide,
Still dost thou freely, proudly shine.
My Country! lives the son of shame
Who would not give his life for thee?
My Country! dearest, holiest name!
Still art thou great, united, free.
My Country! By the children's love,
Whose blood for thee flowed forth like wine,
By Him, thy guardian power above.
Still by that glorious Union thine!
And ye, who with the opening year,
Careless peruse this humble lay;
If to your hearts that land be dear,
Where first ye hailed the joyous day;-
For that fair heritage ye claim
Seek the best gift that Heaven bestows,
More glorious than the Conqueror's name,
The honour that from virtue flows.
May health and joy around you smile,
As glides away the dawning year;
And not a thought of grief beguile
Your eyes of one bright, transient tear.
The minstrel's wish is breathed; the lyre
He rudely woke may sleep once more.
Quenched is his momentary fire,
The chords are hushed, the song is o'er.
December 31, 1833.
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