to the dying year

by Elizabeth Clementine Kinney

Image: Newark Story
Image: Newark Story

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.”

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winter

by Louis Ginsberg

Image: Newark Public Library via nj.com
Image: Newark Public Library via nj.com

A barren field in the Winter,
        When the winds dart,
When chilly the driving snowflakes
        Bite and smart,
Bleak with the frost of sorrow,
        Lies my heart.

Yet in the dreary snowfall,
        Lighting the view,
And whistling with vibrant music,
        That shrills through,
Green are the glistening hemlocks,–
        My thoughts of you!

Newark-born poet Louis Ginsberg included these lines in his 1920 collection The Attic of the Past and Other Lyrics.

snow

by E. Alma Flagg

Sh! it’s snowing!
Magic stuff that makes
The world a picture-book!
Soft and silent,
Fuzzy snow that hides
Each form and seeks each nook!

Look in wonder!
All the world that was
So dark is fair to see.
Breathe, but lightly,
Lest the sight that thrills
Us vanish suddenly.

Image: Matt Rainey/The Star-Ledger
Image: Matt Rainey/The Star-Ledger

E. Alma Flagg was poet laureate of East Side High School’s class of 1935. She taught Newark children for many years and was appointed the city’s first black principal of an integrated school, serving at Hawkins Street School in the Ironbound. In 1967 she became an assistant superintendent of the Newark schools. A North Ward elementary school is named for her.

“Snow” was included in a commemorative edition of Flagg’s poems, Lines, colors, and more, published in 1998.

a winter song

by Augustus Watters

godeys_18644
Image: Godey’s Lady’s Book

What reck we though round our lodges
        Savage storms incessant howl,
Tho’ fell winds with frantic malice
        Ever at our windows prowl.
Can we not fling to the shutters,
        And the logs in mountains heap—
Drown the tempest with our singing
        While the flames in frenzy leap!

Bellow on, relentless menials,
        Passing far your chief’s command,
Wreaking on the homeless wand’rer
        More than spite of pirate band.
Drag from out his bed the cedar,
        Snap the tossing boughs in twain;
Snow-intrenched, we still defy you,
        Laugh at all your scowling train.

’Fore the blaze we’ll crowd the closer,
        Swifter pass the cider round,
Louder raise the hearty chorus,
        Wilder let our glee resound.
Mid the clicking of our hammers,
        Crushing fast the oily nut,
We’ll forget that flowers have faded,
        Or that winds their fury glut.

If within your heart, my brother,
        Boreas plants no icy sway,
If the love we pledged each other,
        Midst the breath of balmy May,
Hath not met the fate of daisies,
        Smiling once o’er all the mead,
Gayly we may clink our glasses
        And the storm-king never heed.

“A winter storm” is included in Augustus Watters’ Poems, published in Newark (1892).