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O BLACKBIRD ! sing me something well: While all the neighbors shoot thee round, I keep smooth plats of fruitful ground,
Where thou may'st warble, eat and dwell.
The espaliers and the standards all
Are thine; the range of lawn and park:
The unnetted blackhearts ripen dark,
All thine, against the garden wall.
Yet, though I spared thee all the spring,
Thy sole delight is, sitting still,
With that gold dagger of thy bill
To fret the summer jenneting.
A golden bill the silver tongue,
Cold February loved, is dry:
Plenty corrupts the melody
That made thee famous once, when young:
And in the sultry garden-squares,
Now thy flute-notes are changed to coarse.
I hear thee not at all, or hoarse
As when a hawker hawks his wares.
Take warning ! he that will not sing
While yon sun prospers in the blue,
Shall sing for want, ere leaves are new,
Caught in the frozen palms of Spring.
THE DEATH OF THE OLD YEAR.
FULL knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year, you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year, you shall not die.
He lieth still: he doth not move :
He will not see the dawn of day.
He bath no other life above.
He gave me a friend, and a true, true-love,
And the New-year will take 'em away.
Old year, you must not go;
So long as you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.
He frothed his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But though his eyes are waxing dim,
And though his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.
He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die, across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he'll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year, blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.
How hard he breathes / over the Snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low :
'Tis nearly twelve o'clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we'll dearly rue for you :
What is it we can do for you ?
Speak out before you die.
His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack our friend is gone.
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin :
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There's a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.
THE wind, that peats the mountain, blows
More softly round the open wold,
And gently comes the world to those
That are cast in gentle mould.
And me this knowledge bolder made,
Or else I had not dared to flow
In these words toward you, and invade
Even with a verse your holy woe.
'Tis strange that those we lean on most,
Those in whose laps our limbs are nursed,
Fall into shadow, soonest lost :
Those we love first are taken first.
God gives us love. Something to love
He lends us; but, when love is grown
To ripeness, that on which it throve
Falls off, and love is left alone.
V. This is the curse of time. Alas ! In grief I am not all unlearned; Once through mine own doors Death did pass; One went, who never hath returned.
VI. He will not smile—not speak to me Once more. Two years his chair is seen Empty before us. That was he Without whose life I had not been.
Your loss is rarer; for this star
Rose with you through a little arc
Of heaven, nor having wandered far,
Shot on the sudden into dark.
I knew your brother: his mute dust
I honor, and his living worth ;
VOI. I. 8
A man more pure and bold and just
Was never born into the earth.
I have not looked upon you migh,
Since that dear soul hath fallen asleep.
Great Nature is more wise than I:
I will not tell you not to weep.
And though my own eyes fill with dew,
Drawn from the spirit through the brain,
I will not even preach to you,
“Weep, weeping dulls the inward pain.”
Let Grief be her own mistress still.
She loveth her own anguish deep
More than much pleasure. Let her will
Be done—to weep or not to weep.
I will not say “God’s ordinance
Of Death is blown in every wind; ”
For that is not a common chance
That takes away a noble mind.
His memory long will live alone
In all our hearts, as mournful light
That broods above the fallen sun,
And dwells in heaven half the night.
Vain solace | Memory standing near
Cast down her eyes, and in her throat
Her voice seemed distant, and a tear
Dropt on the letters as I wrote.