The Dying Year

A poem by Mary Gardiner Horsford

With dirge-like music, low,
Sounds forth again the solemn harp of Time;
Mass for the buried hours, a funeral chime
O'er human joy and woe.
The sere leaves wail around thy passing bier,
Speed to thy dreamless rest, departing year!

Yet, ere thy sable pall
Cross the wide threshold of the mighty Past,
Give back the treasures on thy bosom cast;
Earth would her gems recall:
Give back the lily's bloom and violet's breath,
The summer leaves that bowed before the reaper Death.

Give back the dreams of fame,
The aspirations strong for glory won;
Hopes that went out perchance when set thy sun,
Nor left nor trace nor name:
Give back the wasted hours, half-uttered prayer,
The high resolves forgot that stained thine annals fair.

Give back the flow of thought,
That woke within the poet's yearning breast,
Soothing its wild and passionate unrest;
Love's rainbow-visions, wrought
Of youth's deep, fearless trust, that light the scroll
With an intenser glow, - records of heart and soul!

Give back - for thou hast more -
Give back the kindly words we loved so well,
Voices, whose music on the spirit fell,
But tenderness to pour;
The steps that never now around us tread,
Faces that haunt our sleep: give back, give back the dead.

Give back! - who shall explore
Creation's boundless realms to mark thy prey?
Who mount where man has never thought to sway,
Or science dared to soar?
Oh! who shall tell what suns have set for aye,
What worlds gone out, what systems passed away?

Not till the stars shall fall,
And earth and sky before God's mandate flee,
Shall human vision look, or spirit see,
Beneath thy mystic pall:
But hark! with accent clear, and flute-like swell,
Floats up the New Year's voice, - Departed one, farewell!

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