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Poem by Alfred Edward Housman

Additional Poems. 21. New Years Eve

The end of the year fell chilly
        Between a moon and a moon;
Thorough the twilight shrilly
        The bells rang, ringing no tune.

The windows stained with story,
        The walls with miracle scored,
Were hidden for gloom and glory
        Filling the house of the Lord.

Arch and aisle and rafter
        And roof-tree dizzily high
Were full of weeping and laughter
        And song and saying good-bye.

There stood in the holy places
        A multitude none could name,
Ranks of dreadful faces
        Flaming, transfigured in flame.

Crown and tiar and mitre
        Were starry with gold and gem;
Christmas never was whiter
        Than fear on the face of them.

In aisles that emperors vaulted
        For a faith the world confessed,
Abasing the Host exalted,
        They worshipped towards the west.

They brought with laughter oblation;
        They prayed, not bowing the head;
They made without tear lamentation,
        And rendered me answer and said:

0 thou that seest our sorrow,
        It fares with us even thus:
To-day we are gods, to-morrow
        Hell have mercy on us.

Lo, morning over our border
        From out of the west comes cold;
Down ruins the ancient order
        And empire builded of old.

Our house at even is queenly
        With psalm and censers alight:
Look thou never so keenly
        Thou shalt not find us to-night.

We are come to the end appointed
        With sands not many to run:
Divinities disanointed
        And kings whose kingdom is done.

The peoples knelt down at our portal,
        All kindreds under the sky;
We were gods and implored and immortal
        Once; and to-day we die.

They turned them again to their praying,
        They worshipped and took no rest
Singing old tunes and saying
        We have seen his star in the west,

Old tunes of the sacred psalters,
        Set to wild farewells;
And I left them there at their altars
        Ringing their own dead knells.

Alfred Edward Housman

Alfred Edward Housman's other poems:
  1. Last Poems. 20. The Night Is Freezing Fast
  2. More Poems. 14. The Farms of Home Lie Lost in Even
  3. More Poems. 47. For My Funeral
  4. More Poems. 11. The Rainy Pleiads Wester
  5. More Poems. 28. He, Standing Hushed, a Pace or Two Apart

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