Page images
PDF
EPUB

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

59

Within those dark, damp houses are merry faces bright,
And happy hearts are watching out the old year's latest night.

With the little box of matches she could not sell all day,
And the thin, tattered mantle the wind blows every way,
She clingeth to the railing, she shivers in the gloom-
There are parents sitting snugly by the firelight in the room;
And children with grave faces are whispering one another
Of presents for the new year, for father or for mother.
But no one talks to Gretchen, and no one hears her speak,
No breath of little whisperers comes warmly to her cheek.

No little arms are round her: ah me! that there should be,
With so much happiness on earth, so much of misery!
Sure they of many blessings should scatter blessings round,
As laden boughs in Autumn fling their ripe fruits to the ground.
And the best love man can offer to the God of love, be sure,
Is kindness to his little ones, and bounty to his poor.
Little Gretchen, little Gretchen goes coldly on her way;
There's no one looketh out at her, there's no one bids her stay.

Her home is cold and desolate; no smile, no food, no fire,
But children clamorous for bread, and an impatient sire.
So she sits down in an angle where two great houses meet,
And she curleth up beneath her for warmth her little feet;
And she looketh on the the cold wall, and on the colder sky,
And wonders if the little stars are bright fires up on high.
She hears the clock strike slowly, up in a church tower,
With such a sad and solemn tone, telling the midnight hour.

And she remembered her of tales her mother used to tell,
And of the cradle-songs she sang, when Summer's twilight fell;
Of good men and of angels, and of the Holy Child,
Who was cradled in a manger, when Winter was most wild ;
Who was poor, and cold, and hungry, and desolate and lone ;
And she thought the song had told he was ever with his own;
And all the poor and hungry and forsaken ones are his. -
“How good of Him to look on me in such a place as this ! "

Colder it grows and colder, but she does not feel it now,
For the pressure on her heart, and the weight upon her brow;
But she struck one little match on the wall so cold and bare,
That she might look around her, and see if He were there.
The single match has kindled, and by the light it threw
It seemed to litt e Gretchen the wall was rent in two;
And she could see folks seated at a table richly spread,
With heaps of goodly viands, red wine and pleasant bread.

She could smell the fragrant savor, she could hear what trey did

say, Then all was darkness once again, the match had burned away. She struck another hastily, and now she seemed to see Within the same warın chamber a glorious Christmas tree. The branches were all laden with things that children prize, Bright gifts for boy and maiden-she saw them with her eyes. And she almost seemed to touch them, and to join the welcome

shout, When darkness fell around her, for the little match was out.

Another, yet another, she has tried--they will not light;
Till all her little store she took, and struck with all her might:
And the whole miserable place was lighted with the glare,
And she dreamed there stood a little child before her in the air.
There were blood-drops on his forehead, a spear-wound in his side,
And cruel nail-prints in his feet, and in his hands spread wide.
And he looked upon her gently, and she felt that he had known
Pain, hunger, cold, and sorrow-ay, equal to her own.

And he pointed to the laden board and to the Christmas tree,
Then up to the cold sky, and said, “Will Gretchen come with me?"
The poor child felt her pulses fail, she felt her eyeballs swim,
And a ringing sound was in her ears, like her dead mother's

hymn: And she folde:l both her thin white hands, and turned from that

bright board, And from the golden gifts, and said, “With thee, with thee, 0,

Lord!”

THE SONG OF SHERMAN'S ARMY.

61

The chilly winter morning breaks up in the dull skies
On the city wrapt in vapor, on the spot where Gretchen lies.

In her scant and tattered garments, with her back against the wall,
She sitteth cold and rigid, she answers to no call.
They have lifted her up fearfully, they shuddered as they said,
"It was a bitter, bitter night! the child is frozen dead."
The angels sang their greeting for one more redeemed from sin;
Men said, “It was a bitter night; would no one let her in ?.”
And they shivered as they spoke of her, and sighed. They could

not see
How much of happiness there was after that misery.

THE SONG OF SHERMAN'S ARMY.

C. G. HALPINL.

A PILLAR of fire by night,

A pillar of smoke by day,
Some hours of march, then a halt to fight,

And so we hold our way;
Some hours of march, then a halt to fight,

As on we hold our way.

Over mountain, and plain, and stream,

To some bright Atlantic bay,
With our arms aflash in the morning beam,

We hold our festal way;
With our arms aflash in the morning beam,

We hold our checkless way!

There is terror wherever we come,

There is terror and wild dismay
When they see the Old Flag and hear the drum

Announce us on the way;
When they see the Old Flag and hear the drum

Beating time to our onward way.

Never unlimber a gun

For those villainous lines in grey,

Draw sabres ! and at 'em upon the run !

'Tis thus we clear our way, Draw sabres, and soon you will see them run,

As we hold our conquering way.

The loyal, who long have been dumb,

Are loud in their cheers to-day ;
And the old men out on their crutches come,

To see us hold our way;
And the old men out on their crutches come,

To bless us on our way.

Around us in rear and flanks,

Their futile squadrons play,
With a sixty-mile front of steady ranks,

We hold our checkless way;
With a sixty-mile front of serried ranks.

Our banner clears the way.

Hear the spattering fire that starts

From the woods and copses grey, There is just enough fighting to quicken our hearts,

As we frolic along the way! There is just enough fighting to warm our hearts,

As we rattle along the way.

Upon different roads abreast

The heads of our columns gay,
With fluttering flags, all forward pressed,

Hold on their conquering way.
With fluttering flags to victory pressed,

We hold our glorious way.

Ah, traitors ! who bragged so bold

In the sad war's early day,
Did nothing predict you should ever behold

The Old Flag come this way?
Did nothing predict you should yet behold

Our banner come back this way?

THE SEA CAPTAIN'S STORY.

63

By heaven! 'tis a gala march,

'Tis a pic-nic or a play ;
Of all our long war 'tis the crowning arch,

Hip, hip! for Sherman's way!
Of all our long war this crowns the arch-

For Sherman and Grant, hurrah!

THE SEA CAPTAIN'S STORY.

LORD LYTTON.

Gentle lady!
The key of some charm'd music in your voice
Unlocks a long-closed chamber in my soul ;
And would you listen to an outcast's tale,
'Tis briefly told. Until my fourteenth year,
Beneath the roof of an old village priest,
Nor far from hence, my childhood wore away.
Then waked within me anxious thoughts and deep.
Throughout the liberal and melodious nature
Something seem'd absent—what, I scarcely knew-
Till one calm night, when over earth and wave
Heaven looked its love from all its numberless stars-
Watchful yet breathless--suddenly the sense
Of my sweet want swelled in me, and I ask'd
The priest-why I was motherless ?
He wept and answer'd "I was nobly born!”

As he spake,
There gleamed across my soul a dim remembrance
Of a pale face in infancy beheld-
A shadowy face, but from whose lips there breathed
The words that none but mothers murmur !

'Twas at that time there came
Into our hamlet a rude jovial seaman,
With the frank mien boys welcome, and wild tales
Of the far off Indian lands, from which mine ear
Drank envious wonder. Brief-his legends fired me,
And from the deep, whose billows washed the shore
On which our casement look'd, I heard a voice

« PreviousContinue »