Old stricken Year! and must thou die?
Methinks I hear thy waning sigh
Borne on the wintry blast:
My lamp burns dim, and, dim with tears,
My eyes see shadows, where appears
Thy spectre, moving toward the years
That are forever past.
Hark! through the darkness, deep and slow,
The tongue of midnight soundeth now
Thy knell, departing Year!
Mysteriously the numbers roll,
And echo answers from the soul,
To every melancholy toll
That vibrates on the ear.
Hoary and lone, in childless gloom
Old Year, thou goest to the tomb
Where all thy offspring lie:
Fair, budding Spring was first to fade,
Then Summer’s blossoms all decayed,
While lingering Autumn only staid
Till ripened age–to die!
But I will mourn for thee, old Year!
And lay an offering on thy bier
In flowers of poesy;
For many a gift hast thou bestowed
Of love, that fondly, brightly glowed,
Until my swelling heart o’erflowed
With thankful ecstasy.
And if thou ever hast been stern,
‘T was only that the soul might learn
What discipline imparts.
Thou, like a grandsire old and gray
Hast seemed to me in thy decay,
And now I see thee borne away
As when a friend departs.
But let a blessing on me fall,
Departing Year, e’en from the pall
That darkly covers thee;
And lest with sad remorse I grieve,
This heart would one more boon receive,–
Approving Memory to me leave
As thy last legacy.
Printed in Elizabeth C. Kinney’s 1867 volume Poems, these verses exist in a New York Public Library manuscript where they are dated “Newark, December, 1848.”