'Twas near the close of the dying year,
And December's winds blew cold and drear,
Driving the snow and sharp blinding sleet
In gusty whirls through square and street,
Shrieking more wildly and fiercely still
In the dreary grave-yard that crowns the hill.
No mourners there to sorrow or pray,
But soon a traveller passed that way:
He paused and leant against the low stone wall,
While sighs breathed forth from the pine-trees tall
That darkly look down on the silent crowd
Of graves, all wrapped in a snowy shroud.
Solemn and weird was the spectral scene -
The tombstones white, with low mounds between,
The awful stillness, eerie and dread,
Brooding above that home of the dead,
While Christmas fires lit up each hearth
And shed their glow upon scenes of mirth.
Silent the weary wayfarer stood -
The spot well suited his pensive mood,
And severed friendships, bright day-dreams flown,
Thronged on his thoughts in that moment lone.
"Yes, happiness-hope," he murmured low,
"All buried alike beneath the snow."
"O, for the right to lay down the load
I've borne so long on life's dreary road,
Heavily weighing on heart and brain,
And as galling to both as a convict's chain; -
No more its strain shall I tamely bear
But join the peaceful sleepers there."
His head on the old wall drooped more low,
Whilst faster came down the sleet and snow,
Sharply chilling the blood in his veins,
Racking his frame with rheumatic pains;
"No matter," he thought, "I'll soon lie low,
Calm - quiet enough - beneath the snow."
Ah! hapless one, thus thine arms to yield
When nearly won, perchance, is the field.
After long struggling to lose at last
The price of many a victory past,
Of many an hour of keen, sharp strife,
Mournfully spent in the war of Life.
But, hark! on high sound the Christmas bells,
Of hope to that mourner their chiming tells,
Of the sinless hours of childhood pure,
Of a God who came all griefs to cure;
And, leaving, he prayed: "O my Father and Friend,
Grant me strength to be faithful to the end!"