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Songs from the Southland   By: (1849-1903)

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[Illustration: (signed) Very Truly Yours, Paul H. Hayne.]









'Tis midnight's holy hour, and silence now Is brooding, like a gentle spirit o'er The still and pulseless world. Hark! on the winds The bell's deep tones are swelling; 'tis the knell Of the departed year. No funeral train Is sweeping past; yet, on the stream and wood, With melancholy light, the moonbeams rest Like a pale, spotless shroud; the air is stirred, As by a mourner's sigh; and, on yon cloud, That floats so still and placidly through heaven, The spirits of the Seasons seem to stand. Young Spring, bright Summer, Autumn's solemn form, And Winter with its aged locks and breathe In mournful cadences, that come abroad, Like the far windharps wild, touching wail, A melancholy dirge o'er the dead year, Gone from the earth forever.

'Tis a time For memory and for tears. Within the deep, Still chambers of the heart, a spectre dim, Whose tones are like the wizard voice of time, Heard from the tomb of ages, points its cold And solemn finger to the beautiful And holy visions, that have passed away, And left no shadow of their loveliness On the dead waste of life. The spectre lifts The coffin lid of Hope and Joy and Love, And bending mournfully above the pale, Sweet forms that slumber there, scatters dead flowers O'er what has passed to nothingness.

The year Has gone, and with it many a glorious throng Of happy dreams. Its mark is on each brow, Its shadow in each heart. In its swift course, It waved its sceptre o'er the beautiful; And they are not. It laid its pallid hand Upon the strong man: and the haughty form Is fallen, and the flashing eye is dim. It trod the hall of revelry, where thronged The bright and joyous; and the tearful wail Of stricken ones is heard, where erst the song And reckless shout resounded. It passed o'er The battle plain, where sword, and spear and shield, Flashed in the light of midday; and the strength Of serried hosts is shivered, and the grass, Green from the soil of carnage, waves above The crushed and mouldering skeleton. It came, And faded like a wreath of mist at eve; Yet, ere it melted in the viewless air, It heralded its millions to their home, In the dim land of dreams.

Remorseless time! Fierce spirit of the glass and scythe! What power Can stay him in his silent course, or melt His iron heart to pity! On, still on, He presses and forever. The proud bird, The Condor of the Andes, that can soar Through heaven's unfathomable depths, or brave The fury of the northing hurricane, And bath its plumage in the thunder's home Furls his broad wing at nightfall, and sinks down To rest upon his mountain crag; but Time Knows not the weight of sleep or weariness, And Night's deep darkness has no chain to bind His rushing pinion.

Revolutions sweep O'er earth, like troubled visions o'er the breast Of dreaming sorrow; cities rise and sink Like bubbles on the water; fiery isles Spring blazing from the ocean, and go back To their mysterious caverns; mountains rear To heaven their bold and blackened cliffs, and bow Their tall heads to the plain; and empires rise, Gathering the strength of hoary centuries, And rush down, like the Alpine avalanche, Startling the nations; and the very stars, Yon bright and glorious blazonry of God, Glitter awhile in their eternal depths, And like the Pleiad, loveliest of their train, Shoot from their glorious spheres, and pass away To darkle in the trackless void; yet Time, Time, the tomb builder, holds his fierce career, Dark, stern, all pitiless, and pauses not Amid the mighty wrecks that strew his path, To sit and muse, like other conquerors, Upon the fearful ruin he hath wrought... Continue reading book >>

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