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154

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

Mary, who silently saw all,
That mother true and mild,
Folded her hands upon her breast,
And kneeled before her child.

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

MARIA LOWELL.

The following stanzas are a translation, or rather adaptation, from a Swedish tale, by ANDERSEN.

LITTLE Gretchen, little Gretchen,
Wanders up and down the street,
The snow is on her yellow hair,
The frost is at her feet.

The rows of long dark houses
Without, look cold and damp,
By the struggling of the moonbeam,
By the flicker of the lamp.

The clouds ride fast as horses,
The wind is from the north,
But no one cares for Gretchen,
And no one looketh forth.

Within those dark, damp houses
Are merry faces bright,
And happy hearts are watching out
The old year's latest night.

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

The board is spread with plenty,
Where the smiling kindred meet;
But the frost is on the pavement,
And the beggars in the street.

With the little box of matches
She could not sell all day,
And the thin, thin tattered mantle
The wind blows every way.

She clingeth to the railing,

She shivers in the gloom,There are parents sitting snugly By firelight in the room;

And groups of busy children,

Withdrawing just the tips Of rosy fingers pressed in vain Against their burning lips,

With grave and earnest faces,
Are whispering each other
Of presents for the new year, made
For father or for mother.

But no one talks to Gretchen,
And no one hears her speak,
No breath of little whisperers

Comes warmly to her cheek;

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156

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

No little arms are round her,
Ah me! that there should be,
With so much happiness on earth,
So much of misery!

Sure they of many blessings

Should scatter blessings round, As laden boughs in autumn fling Their ripe fruits to the ground.

And the best love man can offer
To the God of love, be sure,
Is kindness to his little ones,
And bounty to his poor.

Little Gretchen, little Gretchen
Goes coldly on her way;
There's no one looketh out at her,
There's no one bids her stay.

Her home is cold and desolate,
No smile, no food, no fire,
But children clamorous for bread,
And an impatient sire.

So she sits down in an angle,
Where two great houses meet,
And she curleth up beneath her,
For warmth, her little feet.

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

And she looketh on the cold wall,
And on the colder sky,
And wonders if the little stars
Are bright fires up on high.

She heard a clock strike slowly,
Up in a far church-tower,
With such a sad and solemn tone,
Telling the midnight hour.

Then all the bells together

Their merry music poured; They were ringing in the feast,

The circumcision of the Lord.

And she thought as she sat lonely,
And listened to the chime,

Of wondrous things that she had loved
To hear in the olden time.

And she remembered her of tales
Her mother used to tell,
And of the cradle-songs she sang,
When summer's twilight fell; -

Of good men and of angels,
And of the Holy Child,
Who was cradled in a manger,
When winter was most wild.

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158

NEW YEAR'S EVE.

Who was poor, and cold, and hungry,
And desolate and lone;

And she thought the song had told
He was ever with his own.

And all the poor and hungry,
And forsaken ones are his :
"How good of him to look on me,
In such a place as this."

Colder it grows and colder,

But she does not feel it now,
For the pressure at her heart,

And the weight upon her brow.

But she struck one little match
On the wall so cold and bare,
That she might look around her,
And see if He were there.

The single match has kindled,
And by the light it threw,
It seemed to little Gretchen,
The wall was rent in two.

And she could see the room within,
The room all warm and bright,
With the fire-glow red, and dusky,
And the tapers all alight.

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