Autumnal Dirge.

Then die, thou Year—thy work is done :1
The work ill done is done at last.2
Far off, beyond that sinking sun,3
Which sets in blood, I hear the blast4
That sings thy dirge, and says— “ Ascend,5
And answer make amid thy peers,6
(Since all things here must have an end,)7
Thou latest of the famine years !”8
I join that voice. No joy have I9
In all thy purple and thy gold,10
Nor in the nine-fold harmony11
From forest on to forest rolled :12
Nor in that stormy western fire,13
Which burns on ocean’s gloomy bed,14
And hurls, as from a funeral pyre,15
A glare that strikes the mountain’s head ;16
And writes on low-hung clouds its lines17
Of cyphered flame, with hurrying hand ;18
And flings amid the topmost pines19
That crown the steep, a burning brand.20
Make answer, Year, for all thy dead,21
Who found not rest in hallowed earth,22
The widowed wife, the father fled,23
The babe age-stricken from his birth.24
Make answer, Year, for virtue lost ;25
For Faith, that vanquished fraud and force,26
Now waning like a noontide ghost ;27
Affections poisoned at their source :28
The labourer spurned his lying spade ;29
The yeoman spurned his useless plough ;30
The pauper spurned the unwholesome aid,31
Obtruded once, exhausted now.32
The weaver wove till all was dark,33
And, long ere morning, bent and bowed34
Above his work with fingers stark ;35
And made, nor knew he made, a shroud.36
The roof-trees fall of hut and hall,37
I hear them fall, and falling cry38
One fate for each, One fate for all ;39
So wills the Law that willed a lie.”40
Dread power of Man !  what spread the waste41
In circles, hour by hour more wide,42
And would not let the past be past !—43
The Law that promised much, and lied.44
Dread power of God !  whom mortal years45
Nor touch, nor tempt ; who sitt’st sublime46
In night of night,—O bid thy spheres47
Resound at last a funeral chime.48
Call up, at last, the afflicted Race49
Whom Man not God abolished. Sore,50
For centuries, their strife : the place51
That knew them once shall know no more.52