Musings in Maoriland
The Boy and the Year
The Boy and the Year.
Come out, dear father, come and see this weary-looking man;
His hair is grey and very thin, his face is pale and wan;
With tottering steps he slowly wends his way down yonder hill;
The sun is shining warm and bright, and yet he seems quite chill,
His eye is dimmed by sorrow, yet he has a kingly mien;
I'm sure that he far happier and better days has seen.
I think I know his features well—and yet it cannot be!
Dear father, come and look on him, and tell me who is he?"
"My darling boy, you speak aright, we've seen that face before,
But then, instead of sorrow's streaks, a cheerful smile it wore.
He came to us, 'twill be twelve months ago to-morrow morn;
His brow was crown'd with evergreens and sheaves of golden corn;
We welcomed him with open arms, and many a rural game
Was played to honour him, for joy and gladness with him came;
His eye was filled with manly fire, his breath was fresh and pure;
Majestically he stood erect,—his step was firm and sure."
"Dear father, I remember him; the morning he came here
You kissed myself and Amy, and we christened him New Year;
The church bells rang a merry peal, and filled our hearts with glee—
And little Amy laughed;—but now she's gone from you and me.
You said that mother called her to the land beyond the stars,
Where angels paint the silver clouds, and forge the golden bars
That gird the sun at eventide:—but New Year must have known
That Amy meant to leave us here in sorrow all alone."
"My darling boy, the New Year had a mission to fulfil—
Our Supreme Master sent him here to do His holy will;
With smiles for some, and tears for more—'tis sinful to complain,
For pleasure would engender pride unless subdued by pain.
If yon bright orb shone constantly, and never hid his light,
We'd soon get weary of his rays, and wish for sable night;
If those sweet roses blooming in the garden ne'er decayed,
Their fragrance would be wasted, and their loveliness would fade."
"But, father, I am thinking still that New Year was to blame;
Deceitful smiles were on his face the morning that he came.
He fondled our dear Amy, and she sang to him so gay:
He should have told us that he meant to take her far away.
The night she left us, father dear, I thought my heart would break;
You said she only was asleep,—that soon she would awake;
But months have passed, and still she slumbers in the narrow cave,
Beneath the pretty pansies that we planted on her grave."
"The year is not to blame, my son, for wheresoe'er he walks,
Behind his back, with mocking strides, a ghastly spectre stalks;
Who crushes oft the fairest flowers until their leaves are dead—
Their essence he can not destroy, for, soaring o'er his head,
A lovely Angel gathers up the fragrant balm, and pours
The sweet elixir in the stream beyond the azure doors,
Where Cherubs live, and Seraphs sing their never-ending lays,—
Our Amy is above with them, and joins their song of praise."
"Oh, father, dear, I wish that I were up with Amy, too;
You say the bowers are beautiful beyond the aereal blue,
Each New Year seems to bring along a load of care and strife,—
There seems to be less bliss than pain, dear father, in this life;
The hopes we cherish most to-day, to-morrow change to fears;
The smiles that gild our cheeks to-day, to-morrow turn to tears;
Our dearest friends are here to-day—but, ere the morning, fly,
Like mother dear and Amy, to the realms beyond the sky."
"My son, you should not murmur thus; the tide that laves the beach
Can rush along its measured pace, but further cannot reach;
And like unto it is the grasping intellect of man,
It searches to the gates of Heaven, but further cannot scan.
Then face the world bravely, boy, and let repining cease,—
Let honour be your compass, and your harbour will be peace;
Year after year may come and go, but Death, the tyrant, gains
No victory o'er the honest heart, where calm contentment reigns."