Poetry of Kansas

A Lesson for the New Year.

The last night of the year, I sat alone
      Beside the dying fire. The whole house slept.
Naught stirred the silence, save the wind's low moan,
      As sadly through the naked streets it crept,
The fall of embers and the clock's low beat,
That mark the passing yearn with tiring feet.
I am weary; and the coming year
      Seemed but an added load that pressed me sore.
The morrow would bring friends, arid I should hear
      The tread of many feet upon the floor.
I longed for quiet; I was vexed with care;
Just then my burden seemed too great to bear.
I thought of my unopened book, my pen,
      Lying long idle, mst, lng in its place.
Could I but, take them to some lonely glen
      Where toil were not, nor any human face:
'"Twere joy," cried I, so fretful was my mood
"To dwell one year in utter solitude."
"Have then thy wish ?' Was uttered sad and Iow;
      I turned, and one stood by me, fair and tall;
And from his countenance with light aglow,
      A look of pitying grief on me did fall.
"Have then thy wish?' He stooped and touched mine eyes"
And I stood dumb, overwhelmed with strange surprise.
The silent room had vanished and the wood,
      Peopled with birds, that filled its aisles with song
Compassed ms round with sweet green solitude;
      A clear stream trailed its silvery thread along;
And close beside it stood a rustic cot.
Piled high with volumes, and here toil was not.
Fruits for my food fell lightly at my feet;
      I was alone; through all that lovely place
I knew that I might wander, and not meet,
      In hill or hollow, any human face.
Within my books, all wit and wisdom blent.
I had my wish; was I therewith content?
Nay, verily. A sharp grief pierced ate through,
      My spirit sank, oppressed with midnight gloom,
While trees hung o'er me wet with heaven's dew.
      I felt as one walled up within a tomb.
I sought my books; locked were their stores from me;
      The hot tears dimmed my sight, I could not see.
I tried my pen___in vain. No words would come.
      Thought was att arid desert, wide and gray,
From which no streams would flow. My soul was dumb
      With utter loneliness; but could I pray?
I cast me on the fragrant, dewy sod,
My face pressed in the grass___and cried to God.
"Oh! Give me back," I prayed, "The dear days gone -
      The toilsome days, so full of crowded care
The hands I clasped, the lips that pressed my own
      For these, for these, could I all burdens bear?'
I started, for a rustling robe trailed near;
And "Have again thy wisdom fell on my ear.
Again I felt soft, gentle fingers press
      Mine eyelids down; and lo! The dear old room,
'Cite smiling lamp light home's blessed homliness!
      The lonely wood was gone, its grief, its gloom;
And close within my call my dear ones slept.
      For very joy I bowed my head and wept.
The fire was dead, the moon shone on the snow,
      The wailing wintry wind blew bitter cold,
And yet I laid me down with heart aglow,
      For all life's leaden care seemed turned to gold.
I sleep the sleep of peace; I rose at morn,
Strong in the glad New Year___as the one new born.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 118-120

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March 30, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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