A New Year's Eve in War Time

I

Phantasmal fears,

And the flap of the flame,

And the throb of the clock,

And a loosened slate,

And the blind night's drone,

Which tiredly the spectral pines intone!

II

And the blood in my ears

Strumming always the same,

And the gable-cock

With its fitful grate,

And myself, alone.

III

The twelfth hour nears

Hand-hid, as in shame;

I undo the lock,

And listen, and wait

For the Young Unknown.

IV

In the dark there careers--

As if Death astride came

To numb all with his knock--

A horse at mad rate

Over rut and stone.

V

No figure appears,

No call of my name,

No sound but "Tic-toc"

Without check. Past the gate

It clatters--is gone.

VI

What rider it bears

There is none to proclaim;

And the Old Year has struck,

And, scarce animate,

The New makes moan.

VII

Maybe that "More Tears!--

More Famine and Flame--

More Severance and Shock!"

Is the order from Fate

That the Rider speeds on

To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone.

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