Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Dying Old Year, 1867

'Avaunt, away! dread shapes of hate and fear
That hover round me,' moan'd the dying Year:
'Dark treason, superstition, and misrule!
Man, 'neath your sway, is victim, dupe, or tool.
I know ye, whence ye are: back, demons, fly
To native darkness: leave me peace to die.
What sounds appalling stun my dying ear-
Explosive, crashing, cries of pain and fear!
Rebellion, murder, flout the face of day,
And stalk abroad in long and grim array.
Ye men in power, must ye be men of straw?
Arise, assert the majesty of law!
Stern justice, rule, and order-these maintain:
Ye bear the sword, then bear it not in vain.
Protect good men and true: the lawless curb:
Must traitors ever thus your peace disturb?
I die. Yet hear my words before I go:
Arrest the traitorous current in its flow;
Roll back the Papal tide that comes, is come,
Has spread, is spreading o'er your island home.'
He ceased awhile and feebly gasp'd for breath:
Then faintly muttered, 'Hark, the voice of death-
He comes, he comes, in league with demon war,
The thunder of his wheels I hear from far!
My eyes are dark-oh see you not the cloud
That veils broad Europe's sky as with a shroud?
Gallic warriors guard Rome's sovereign priest,
And vultures on Italia's heroes feast;
On red Mentana fell her youthful braves,
And Freedom weeps upon their bloody graves.
'My hours are numbered; midnight rings my knell;
Friends of my youth, eternally farewell!
My young successor on the threshold stands-
Oh, greet him well, with open hearts and hands;
May brighter auguries and happier times
Be his! Ring out the happy New Year chimes.
I go,' he murmur'd low, 'I faint, I die,'
Then passed away, with one low, moaning sigh.
95 Total read