The Last Night of the Year.

Tis desolate out on field and mere,1
And all about the moorlands drear ;2
The wind’s weird voices come and go3
With a murmured sobbing faint and low,4
Like the mourners in a burial-crowd ;5
Each wild-wood creature is in its lair,6
For the cold is sharp in the freezing air,7
And the earth is wrapped in a snowy shroud.8
Faintly shimmers the frozen stream,9
And the hoar-frost shines with a ghostly gleam,10
For the depths of the vast unclouded skies11
Are filled with numberless starry eyes ;12
Through the beech-trees’ leafless branchery13
Downward sparkles their solemn light ;14
In the shadow and loneliness of night15
They are watching to see the old year die.16
Into the dim realms of the Past17
The gray old year is journeying fast ;18
Without—the moonbeam’s pallid glow19
Quivers above his icy brow ;20
Within—the fire burns low and red,21
And the hanging holly-boughs and bays22
Throw shadows strange in the flickering blaze23
On the panelled walls and overhead.24
And now from out the crypt-like gloom25
And stillness of the quiet room,26
Across the red uncertain light,27
Dim shapes are wavering to my sight28
In long procession : they speak no word ;29
There is no sound of echoing feet ;30
But cold and low my pulses beat,31
By the airy sense of their presence stirred.32
They are the ghosts of joys long dead,33
Of bright hours vanished and fair scenes fled ;34
Of hopes that sprung with the springing year,35
Only to fall when the leaf fell sere ;36
And sorrowful memories, pale and wan,37
With the clinging dust of departed years ;38
And my eyes are filled with regretful tears,39
And my heart cries out for the days that are gone !40