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MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING YEAR.

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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 !
Solemnly and slow;

Cold in his arms it lies ;
Caw! caw! the rooks are calling, No stain from its breath is spread
It is a sound of woe,

Over the glassy skies,
A sound of woe!

No mist or stain!
Through woods and mountain-passes Then, too, the Old Year dieto,
The winds, like anthems, roll;

And the forests utter a moan,
They are chanting solemn masses, Like the voice of one who crieth
Singing, “Pray for this poor soul, In the wilderness alone,
Pray,– pray!

“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,
And patter their doleful prayers :- The storm-wind from Labrador,
But their prayers are all in vain, The wind Euroclydon,
All in vain !

The storm-wind !
There he stands in the foul weather, Howl ! howl! and from the forest
The foolish, fond Old Year,

Sweep the red leaves away! Crowned with wild flowers and with Would the sins that thou abhorest, heather,

O Soul ! could thus decay,
Like weak, despised Lear,

And be swept away !
A king, --a king!

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!
Loveth that ever-soft voice,

Kyrie, eleyson!
Gentle and low.

Christe, eleyson !

L'ENVOI.

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 !

camps !

Ballads.

THE SKELETON IN ARMOUR.

PREFATORY NOTE.

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

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head."

“ SPEAK ! speak ! thou fearful guest !

Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armour drest,

Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,

Why dost thou haunt me!"

Then, from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the Northern skies

Gleam in December;
Ana, like the water's flow
Under December's snow,
Came a dull voice of woe

From the heart's chamber

“I was a Viking old !

My deeds, though manifoid,
No Skald in song has told,

No Saga taught thee!
Take heed, that in thy verse
Thou dost the tale rehearse,
Else dread a dead man's curse !

For this I sought thee. “ Far in the Northern Land,

By the wild Baltic's strand,
I, with my childish hand,

Tamed the ger-falcon;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound

Trembled to walk on. "Oft to his frozen lair

Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare

Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolfs bark,
Until the soaring lark

Sang from the meadow.
But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair's crew,
O'er the dark sea I flew

With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led ;
Many the souls that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,

By our stern orders. Many a wassail-bout

Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout

Set the cocks crowing,
As we the Berserk's tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,

Filled to o'erflowing.
Once, as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,

Burning, yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine

Fell their soft splendour. “I wooed the blue-eyed maid,

Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forest's shade

Our vows were plighted.

Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast,
Like birds within their nest

By the hawk frighted. “ Bright in her father's hall

Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,

Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrel stand

To hear my story.
" While the brown ale be quaffed,

Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft

The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn

Blew the foam lightly. “ She was a Prince's child,

I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,

I was discarded !
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night

Her nest unguarded ? “ Scarce had I put to sea,

Bearing the maid with me,-
Fairest of all was she

Among the Norsemen !
When on the white-sea strand,
Waving his armèd hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,

With twenty horsemen.
“ Then launched they to the blast,

Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,

When the wind failed us ;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw

Laugh as he hailed us.
And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
Death ! was the helmsman's hail,

Death without quarter !
Mid-ships with iron-keel
Struck we her ribs of steel ;
Down her black hulk did reel

Through the black water.

“ As with his wings aslant,

Sails the fierce cormorant,
Seeking some rocky haunt,

With his prey laden :
So toward the open main,
Beating the sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,

Bore I the maiden.
"Three weeks we westward bore,

And when the storm was o'er,
Cloud-like we saw the shore

Stretching to leeward ;
There for my lady's bower
Built I the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour,

Stands looking seaward.
There lived we many years ;
Time dried the maiden's tears ;
She had forgot her fears,

She was a mother ;

Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower sbe lies;
Ne'er shall the sun arise

On such another !
“Still grew my bosom then,

Still as a stagnant fen !
Hateful to me were men,

The sunlight hateful !
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,
I

Oh, death was grateful!
“ Thus, seamed with many scars,

Bursting these prison bars,
Up to its native stars

My soul ascended !
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior's soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! Skoal!

- Thus the tale ended.

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.

It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,

To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That
ope

in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow

The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailor,

Had sailed the Spanish Main,
Ι

pray thee, put into yonder port,

For I fear a hurricane.
“ Last night the moon had a golden ring,

And to-night no moon we see !
The skipper he blew a whiff from his pipe,

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

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tation,

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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.
“Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,

And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale

That ever wind did blow."
He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat,

Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,

And bound her to the mast.
“O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
0
say
what
may

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

it be?"
But the father answered never a word,

A frozen corpse was he.
Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow

On his fixed and glassy eyes.
Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed

That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,

On the Lake of Galilee.
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,

Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost the vessel swept

Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe.
And ever the fitful gusts between

A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf,

On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

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