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.”
At morn she rises early, as a busy city should That spends the hours of daylight in the game of “Making Good.” Across the misty meadows she watches for the sun, For worlds of work are waiting, and there’s wonders to be done. She takes a bit of breakfast, she dons her gingham frock, Then sits before her keyboard, with her eyes upon the clock; And when the hands point seven, then loud and joyfully She plays her morning anthem on her steam calliope.
From Belleville down to Waverly, from Bloomfield to the Bay, She fills the morn with music as her chimes and sirens play. The piping trebles start the song, the tenors catch her air, The altos add their mellow notes, the brassy bassos blare; Their thousand voices blend at last in one great living chord Of toil and usefulness and peace—a sound to please the Lord! Listen, O music lovers; was ever heard, think ye, A nobler tune than Newark’s on her steam calliope?
Now dawns a mighty era in the tale of her career, Now golden comes the sunrise of a new and glorious year; And, just as in the old days, her morning sirens call, “Up! Rouse you up, my children! There is happiness for all!” Yes, at this New Year’s advent her whistles fill the morn As sound of heralds’ trumpets when a new world-king is born; And the magic of her music shall set the thousands free Who follow to the calling of her steam calliope!
Leonard Harmon Robbins was a contributor to the Newark Evening News, where many of his poems first appeared. The Newarker published this piece in its January 1916 edition, marking the beginning of the 250th anniversary year. It was reprinted in 1917 in The Newark Anniversary Poems.
God of a Thousand Christmas Gifts, For any hatred we have thought And any evil we have taught Or any misery we have wrought, Forgive us, now.
God of a Thousand Christmas Trees, If, thro’ the year, the wrong held sway, And better deeds were cast away, We pray Thee, on thy Holy Day, Forgive us, now.
God of a Thousand Holidays, We humbly ask that we be sent A spirit true to good intent, So Gifts and Goodness may be blent … God of the Yule Tide, reign.
Henry Lang Jenkinson recruited and led a company of black volunteers from Newark in the Spanish-American War. After service in the Philippines he was engaged in various Newark businesses before joining an artist colony near Woodstock, New York, where he had a metalworking studio.
This poem appeared in The Newarker for February 1916.
Stout Santa Claus cheerily cracks his whip As he skims away o’er the hidden heather, Fur-clad to his furthest finger tip, He gleefully laughs at the Winter weather, Though the wind comes cold From the mountains bold Like a pittance doled with a miser’s pity, And the crusted snow Spreads an icy glow O’er the valley low and the sleeping city; Yet he sings a song as he spins along While his jingling bells gaily tinkle together, And this is the strain of his rude refrain Which he shouts amain in the teeth of the weather, “Away and away, ere the dawn of day We have visits to make many miles away, And calls where we’ve never sent warning. ‘Tis a long year and drear since a frolic we’ve had, So the poor and the sad shall be merry and glad In the light of the Christmas morning.”
He rushes along over field and fen While the snow-dust rises in shining sparkles. And flits like a flash through glade and glen And adown the pass where the forest darkles. Though the country rings With the songs he sings, Yet Old Echo’s wings ever lag behind him,– Like the sun’s lost star All his lost words are Ever following far, yet they never find him, For he cleaves the night with the speed of light With his tinkling bells and mellifluous laughter; And he slaps his knee in a gush of glee As these phrases free hasten briskly after, “Then away like a wink, ere the moon shall sink, We must lighten our load where the little ones think They will watch to catch Santa Claus napping; But my messengers’ pinions will pause as they fly, And close up every eye, be it sleepy or spry, Then I’ll rustle in without rapping.”
With a shout he rapidly hurries past Where the mill-wheel rests ‘neath its icy mounting, And the mill-wife dreams of times long past When howling wolves were past killing or counting; Then the silent charm Of the quiet farm Breaks with strange alarm at the apparition, And the watch-dogs bay Many miles away As along the way sweeps the vocal vision, And the lonely cot in the woodland lot Seems to rattle and ring with the ghostly greeting, While the woodman who hears to himself mutters fears That the noises are cheers from the witches’ wild meeting, Shouting– “Up and away, never pause to play, We’ve so many to see ere the coming of day With our burdens of pleasure and treasure,– For the many we’ve goods, and for some we have gold, And for young and for old we’ve ‘the story of old’ How He loved us all beyond measure.”
As the old chap whirls, like a wizard weird, Over frozen fells and through leafless thickets, The icy spears on his bushy beard Project, when he laughs, like a row of pickets; Soon he rumbles down From the hill-tops crown To the sleepy town, and comes up all standing By a cosy cot In a shady spot ‘Mid a meadow lot near the river landing, Then he slings a pack on his bulky back And springs to the roof like a frost-spangled fairy, And descends from view down the chimney flue With a footing true and a vision wary. And he fills the hose till they tear at the toes, And kisses the baby farewell ere he goes With a bound like a ball to the shingles, Then he quickly returns to his journey again While he rattles amain his own song and refrain, And he grins with delight till he tingles.
His gallant team speedily rushes about,– And they need but a word to fly fast, or walk slowly; Many mansions he scales on his serpentine route, But he oftenest enters the rooms of the lowly. For he loves to go Where the embers glow On a numerous row of stockings in sizes, And his bosom swells– As his fancy tells All the joy that dwells in his pack of prizes:– And the rosy flush of the morning’s blush Just appears o’er the hills as his last visit’s over, Then he whisks away with his empty sleigh While a watchman astray gazes after the rover; As his lashes crack on his homeward track, He leaves many behind who will welcome him back, For he numbers his lovers by legions. And he’ll hasten here with his cargo of cheer When he wakens once more, after sleeping a year, In his home in the Polar Regions.
This poem comes from Frederick Pilch’s volume of Homespun Verses, printed in Newark in 1882.
He touched our lives with gentleness and hope, The hope that Newark would be a better place; He gave a model of inclusiveness, Of knowing black and white and high and low.
The strength he had is what we must employ In treating poverty, disease, mistrust, and hate, The love he had we’ll nurture everywhere To make our living worthy of his gift.
The kindness of a man as big as he (As big of soul as he was big of frame) Is what we must extend to each and all While joining hands to make our forward move.
We loved him as the brother that he was, We’ll miss him from our gatherings about; Our city and our hearts know he was here, And will remember in the years to come.
Timothy Still, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion, turned his commanding physical and personal presence to grassroots organizing in Newark’s Central Ward. He co-founded and led the Hayes Homes Tenants Association, and was president of the United Community Corporation, the city’s official community action agency in the mid-1960s. Upon his sudden death of a heart attack at age 48, the city observed a weeklong period of mourning. In 1970 the Schoolmen’s Club dedicated a plaque to Still’s memory in the Central Ward’s Quitman Street School; the inscription hailed him as “a shining example to light the way to a better Newark.”
Alma Flagg’s tribute is taken from her 1979 collection Lines and Colors.