Must I go back where all is desolate,
Where reigns the terror of a curse,
To knock, a beggar, at my father’s gate,
That closed upon a hearse?
The old stone pier has crumbled in the
The tide flows through the garden wall;
Where grew the lily, and where hummed the bee,
Black seaweeds rise and fall.
I see the empty nests beneath the eaves;
No bird is near; the vines have died;
The orchard trees have lost the joy of leaves,
The oaks their lordly pride.
Of what avail to set ajar the door
Through which, when ruin fell, I fled?
If on the threshold I should stand once more,
Shall I behold the dead?
Shall I behold, as on that fatal night,
My mother from the window start,
When she was blasted by the evil sight,—
The shame that broke her heart?
The yellow grass grows on my sister’s
Her room is dark—she is not there;
I feel the rain, and hear the wild wind rave—
My tears, and my despair.
A white-haired man is singing a sad song
Amid the ashes on the hearth;
“Ashes to ashes, I have moaned so long
I am alone on earth.”
No more! no more! I cannot bear this
Shut the foul annals of my race;
Accursed the hand that opens them again,
My dowry of disgrace.
And so, farewell, thou bitter, bitter
When morning comes the shadows fly;
Before we part, I give this merry toast,—
The dead that do not die!
Let me be merry now, ’t is time;
The season is at hand
For Christmas rhyme and Christmas chime,
Close up, and form the band.
The winter fires still burn as bright,
The lamp-light is as clear,
And since the dead are out of sight,
What hinders Christmas cheer?
Why think or speak of that abyss
In which lies all my Past?
High festival I need not miss,
While song and jest shall last.
We’ll clink and drink on Christmas
Our ghosts can feel no wrong;
They revelled ere they took their leave—
Hearken, my Soldier’s Song:
“The morning air doth coldly pass,
Comrades, to the saddle spring:
The night more bitter cold will bring
Ere dying—ere dying.
Sweetheart, come, the parting glass;
Glass and sabre, clash, clash, clash,
Ere dying—ere dying.
Stirrup-cup and stirrup-kiss—
Do you hope the foe we’ll miss,
Sweetheart, for this loving kiss,
Ere dying—ere dying?”
The feasts and revels of the year
Do ghosts remember long?
Even in memory come they here?
Listen, my Sailor’s Song: