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MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR.
Yes, the Year is growing old,
To the crimson woods he saith, And his eye is pale and bleared !
To the voice gentle and low Death, with frosty hand and cold, Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath, Plucks the old man by the beard,
“Pray do not mock me so ! Sorely,—sorely !
Do not laugh at me!”. The leaves are falling, falling,
And now the sweet day is dead !
Cold in his arms it lies ;
Over the glassy skies,
No mist or stain!
And the forests utter a moan,
“Vex not his ghost !” And the hooded clouds, like friars, Then comes, with an awful roar,
Tell their beads in drops of rain, Gathering and sounding on,
The storm-wind !
Sweep the red leaves away! Crowned with wild flowers and with Would the sins that thou abhorest, heather,
O Soul ! could thus decay,
And be swept away !
For there shall come a mightier blast, Then comes the summer-like day,
There shall be a darker day; Bids the old man rejoice !
And the stars, from heaven down-cast, His joy! bis last ! Oh, the old man gray
Like red leaves be swept away!
Christe, eleyson !
Ye voices, that arose
Go, mingle yet once more After the Evening's close,
With the perpetual roar And whispered to my restless heart of the pine forest, dark and hoar ! repose !
Tongues of the dead, not lost, Go, breathe in the ear
But speaking from death's frost, Of all who doubt and fear,
Like fiery tongues at Pentecost ! And say to them, “Be of good cheer !"
Glimmer, as funeral lamps, Ye sounds, so low and calm,
Amid the chills and damps That in the groves of balm
Of the vast plain where Death enSeemed to me like an angel's psalm !
THE SKELETON IN ARMOUR.
Tas following Ballad was suggested to me while riding on the seashore at Newport. A year or two previous a skeleton had been dug up at Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armour; and the idea occurred to me of connecting it with the Round Tower at Newport, generally known hitherto as the Old Windmill, though now claimed by the Danes as a work of their early ancestors. Professor Rafn, in the Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, for 1838-9, says,
“There is no mistaking in this instance the style in which the more ancient stone edifices of the North were constructed, the style which belongs to the Roman or AnteGothic architecture, and which, especially after the time of Charlemagne, diffused itself from Italy over the whole of the West and North of Europe, where it continued to predominate until the close of the twelfth century; that style which some authors havo, from one of its most striking characteristics, called the round-arch style, the same which in England is denominated Saxon and sometimes Norman architecture.
“On the ancient structure in Newport there are no ornaments remaining which might possibly have served to guide us in assigning the probable date of its erection. That no vestige whatever is found of the pointed arch, nor any approximation to it, is indicative of an earlier rather than of a later period. From such characteristics as remain, however, we can scarcely form any other inference than one, in which I am persuaded that all who are familiar with Old Northern architecture will concur, THAT THIS BUILDING WAS ERECTED AT A PERIOD DECIDEDLY NOT LATER THAN THE TWELFTH CENTURY. This remark applies, of course, to the original building only, and not to the alterations that it subsequently received; for there are several such alterations in the upper part of the building which cannot be mistaken, and which were most likely occasioned by its being adapted in modern times to various uses, for example, as the substructure of a windmill, and latterly as a hay magazine. To the same times may be referred the windows, the fireplace, and the apertures made above the columns. That this building could not have been erected for a windmill is what an architect will easily discern."
I will not enter into a discussion of the point. It is sufficiently well established for the purpose of a ballad, though doubtless many an honest citizen of Newport, who has passed his days within sight of the Round Tower, will be ready to exclaim with Sancho,“ God bless me! did I not warn you to have a of what you were doing, for that it was nothing but a windmill ? and nobody could mistake it but one who had the like in his
“ SPEAK ! speak ! thou fearful guest !
Who, with thy hollow breast
Comest to daunt me!
Why dost thou haunt me!"
Then, from those cavernous eyes
Gleam in December;
From the heart's chamber
“I was a Viking old !
My deeds, though manifoid,
No Saga taught thee!
For this I sought thee. “ Far in the Northern Land,
By the wild Baltic's strand,
Tamed the ger-falcon;
Trembled to walk on. "Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
Fled like a shadow;
Sang from the meadow.
With the marauders.
By our stern orders. “Many a wassail-bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Set the cocks crowing,
Filled to o'erflowing.
Burning, yet tender;
Fell their soft splendour. “I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
By the hawk frighted. “ Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Chanting his glory;
To hear my story.
Loud then the champion laughed,
The sea-foam brightly,
Blew the foam lightly. “ She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
I was discarded !
Her nest unguarded ? “ Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,-
Among the Norsemen !
With twenty horsemen.
Bent like a reed each mast,
When the wind failed us ;
Laugh as he hailed us.
Death without quarter !
Through the black water.
“ As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cormorant,
With his prey laden :
Bore I the maiden.
And when the storm was o'er,
Stretching to leeward ;
Stands looking seaward.
She was a mother ;
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
On such another !
Still as a stagnant fen !
The sunlight hateful !
Oh, death was grateful!
Bursting these prison bars,
My soul ascended !
- Thus the tale ended.
THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.
It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
To bear him company.
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
in the month of May.
His pipe was in his mouth,
The smoke now West, now South.
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
pray thee, put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.
And to-night no moon we see !
And a scornful laugh laughed he. * In Scandinavia this is the customary sulutation when drinking a health. lightly changed the orthography of the word, in order to preserve the correct pronun
Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the North-east; The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast. Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength; She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.
And do not tremble so;
That ever wind did blow."
Against the stinging blast;
And bound her to the mast.
it be ?" “ 'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast !"
And he steered for the open sea. “ O father! I hear the sound of guns,
O say, what may it be? “Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!” “O father, I see a gleaming light, 0 say, what may
A frozen corpse was he.
With his face turned to the skies,
On his fixed and glassy eyes.
That savèd she might be;
On the Lake of Galilee.
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.
A sound came from the land;
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.