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THE BIRTH OF A NATION.

23

Why come they? Read it in each face,

And on each unknit brow:
To-night unchains their suffering race !

And should they slumber now?

Long years of bitter, burning pain,

Of heart-corroding wo, Were theirs; and long they wore the chain,

And long endured the blow ;And soon, of all in bondage met,

Unbound shall rise each one, And, free as hill-side rivulet,

Each slumbering pulse beat on.

Hark! hark! the tones of midnight bell

The day's last moments call-
Slowly, as if they beat the knell

Of childhood's funeral.
Ye tell no tale of wo or pain :

O tones! beat faster, far !
Ye call a race to life again,

As from the sepulchre.

Above that throng those notes have flown,

In silence bended low,
Save when the short half-stifled moan

Told of the hearts o'erflow.

They rise—the father and the son,

The mother in her tears,
The child, whose life hast just begun,

The sire of eighty years.

One shout—the loosened heart's pure gush,

One song thrills on each tongueTones like an onward river's rush,

In the night's deep stillness rung. Again, in trembling accents wild,

The husband weds the wife;
Again the mother bears her child,

But not a slave for life
To toil in fetters by her side,

Or cower beneath the rod :
No-he shall stand in manly pride,

The image of his God.

Oh ! every thought the heart can know

Of more than earthly bliss,
Is quickened to diviner glow

In such an hour as this.
Sing on, ye freed ones! life for you

Shall wear a brighter charm;
And ye shall tread its mazes through

With stronger heart and arm.

TO THE OLD YEAR.

Peace to thee! dying year!
The winds, that, sad as widowed mother's sigh
Sweep like a spirit's wailings hoarsely by,

Through leafless forests sere,
And o'er the frozen earth and heaving sea,
Shall thy fit death-cry and thy requiem be.

Peace! though we may not say,
Peace to the stormy passions stored within
The heart amid the world's wild stormy din,

While thou wert on thy way;
Though thou art flown, yet still we feel them here,
To cloud the sunshine of the coming year.

Yes! written on the heart
With fiery pen, their record sears it now,
And e'er will waste ;-upon the Helot's brow,
The brand remains, though part

The links that bind him down; though we

may die,

'Twere effort vain from goading thought to fly.

Ay! 'tis a bitter thing
To read the record of our short life's years,
A tale of broken hopes, false vows, and tears,

And self-inflicted suffering;
And love, thrown shower-like to a niggard world,
With scornful laughter back upon us hurled.

Methinks our life should be,
Short as it is, as blithe as summer-day,
With not a cloud to obscure the golden ray,

Which lighted up its darkness cheerily. But 't is not so ;—for lives, e'er lived there one, Without his sorrows 'neath the all-seeing sun ?

O, silver-headed year!
Could'st thou declare all that beneath thy eye
Has fallen, works of iron Destiny;

Could mortal hear,
With brain unturned, the history of wo,
Before undreamed, unimaged here below ?

TO THE OLD YEAR.

27

Thou hast seen murder done,
In dungeons dark, where not a single ray
Of heart-rejoicing sunlight found its way-

Murder, to stop the sun
In his swift course; and thou hast seen a brother
Strike brother down, perchance son slay his

mother.

Thou hast seen many die;
And many a mother weeping o'er her child,
As the expression of its face grew wild,

And fraught with meaning, and its eye Waxed dim and meaningless, and its young bloom Grew fit to moulder in the damp cold tomb.

And thou hast seen the maiden, With eyes more eloquent than sweetest words, And voice as musical as song of birds,

Who stood like young Spring, laden With flowers; round whom as gladly they went by, The zephyrs lingered—such hast thou seen die.

And thou hast seen the youth, Standing "like Hermes on a heaven-kissing hill,” Girt for life's journey, strong in heart and will,

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